I can remember as a young Latina celebrating Hispanic Heritage month: I felt so proud to be connected to my community and heritage. Now, I am linked to my community in a different way as the Small Business Administration (SBA) Regional Administrator for Region VI, which covers Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Texas. This role has given me an opportunity to work alongside Hispanic small business owners, find out what their needs are, and give them the tools they need to grow their business and create jobs.
Hispanics continue to struggle with high unemployment, low wages, lack of health insurance —but we are a community on the rise. In the United States the Hispanic population makes up one out of every three new members of the labor force, and Hispanic owned small businesses are growing at twice the rate of businesses overall.
I was born and raised in Corpus Christi, Texas. My parents are proud third generation Hispanic Americans who raised nine children that have all served our community in different ways. My family has educators, policemen, small business owners, and veterans. As the first Latina Regional Administrator for SBA’s Region VI, I understand the challenges Hispanics face, as well as the importance of our entrepreneurial spirit, which supports our economy and helps create the jobs we need.
President Barack Obama and SBA Administrator Karen Mills also understand these issues, and they are committed to strengthening Hispanic small businesses owners and creating jobs for Hispanics, who will account for 65% of the nation’s population growth between 2010 and 2050.
I am confident that the new pathway laid out in the American Jobs Act will assist Hispanic families and small business owners. Many of the provisions in the American Jobs Act will support Hispanics, including tax cuts to benefit Hispanic–owned small businesses, the extension of unemployment insurance to 1.1 million Hispanics, and targeted support for the long-term unemployed. An estimated 25 million Hispanic workers will benefit from the extension of the payroll tax cut, providing them with more money to spend in our communities and support their families.
We live in an amazing country, and the diversity of our people makes it that way. National Hispanic Heritage Month is a time to honor the history and accomplishments of Hispanic Americans. We Hispanics have contributed so much to our country. Hispanics have fought in every major war to defend our nation. We have provided great poetry, authors, educators, scientists, senators, and congressional leaders. And Hispanic owned businesses are growing and creating the jobs we need. Yes, these are challenging times, but we have a President who understands our community, and he is fighting to get us the tools we need.
Yolanda Garcia Olivarez is Regional Administrator, Region VI for the Small Business Administration