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Op-Ed: Nat’l Hispanic Heritage Month—Where do our small businesses go from here?

Each year for 30 days, Americans celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month as an opportunity to recognize the many contributions this diverse population has made to this nation.

This exponentially increasing and very young demographic group are seizing their opportunity to start businesses that meet the needs of their communities, create jobs, and provide much needed economic development in the nation. 

Hispanics are the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population. They own and operate more than 350,000 businesses nationwide and employ over 3 million people. In my region alone, Hispanics own more than 13% of businesses statewide.

Both President Biden, and SBA Administrator Isabella Castilla Guzman – the highest-ranking Latina in the President’s Cabinet – have made strengthening our Hispanic-owned small businesses a priority over the last 18 months.

On his first day in office the president, in partnership with Congress, implemented programs and policies that bolstered millions of struggling small businesses post-pandemic. 

Almost immediately after, the president signed the American Rescue Plan (ARP) which has helped millions of main street small businesses with continued financial aid targeting smaller minority-owned firms in underserved communities. The ARP directly invested in our hardest-hit small businesses to ensure they could safely reopen — and remain open. The ARP also added an additional $7.25 billion in funding to support small businesses and non-profits that were previously excluded.

Author Marlene Cintron is the SBA’s Region II Administrator, overseeing agency programs, offices, and operations in the SBA’s Atlantic region, serving New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands. She was born in the Bronx, to Puerto Rican parents.

In November 2021, the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act created additional opportunities for minority businesses to gain access to over $1.2 trillion in federal, state, and local government contracts being made available to physically rebuild this nation’s infrastructure.   

This bill also fortifies entrepreneurship, innovation, domestic supply chains, and strengthens our democracy by creating equitable pathways to the American dream. This has been the case for Arturo Ortega who came from Mexico and recently opened his fifth restaurant in New Jersey in a building that he now owns thanks to an SBA loan he received earlier this year. 

Nydia González, a licensed speech-language pathologist, and owner of Advanced Therapy Group (ATG), a therapy center in Caguas, received SBA’s PPP and EIDL loan assistance. SBA’s assistance allowed González to relocate her operations and grow her business. Staffing has grown to 58 employees, and she sees up to 200 patients daily.

The recently passed Inflation Reduction Act will bring down costs of items we need and use daily.  It also offers historic opportunities to America’s 33 million small businesses by driving down health care costs to small businesses and offering a cap on certain medicines such as insulin that our community uses in higher numbers. Now small businesses can focus on doing what they do best, developing talent, innovating, and opening doors of growth and opportunity across all our communities. 

The president’s policies over the last 18 months have had a positive effect on our Hispanic-owned small businesses in my region. Our small businesses can move forward with an administration that is focused on helping America’s Small Businesses first and foremost.   

So where do Hispanic owned businesses go from here? With their sacrifices and penchant for hard work, they have only one way to go — up — with the support of an administration that recognizes their efforts and this nation’s need for more products and services made in America. 

I’m excited about the possibilities and urge those interested in learning more about our programs to visit www.sba.gov or www.sbaenespanol.gov

¡Que viva la Hispanidad!

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This story was written by our staff based on a press release.

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