As a Hispanic member of the Obama Administration, I am proud to join in the celebration of the Hispanic Heritage month, and hopefully be able to assist Hispanic business owners achieve their dreams of becoming successful entrepreneurs.
I was born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico, but have lived in Connecticut, Texas, Ohio and currently in New York City. As such, I am one of millions of Puerto Ricans who have embarked on what we have come to call the "guagua aerea" (or "airbus" in Spanish) which exemplifies the constant flux of Puerto Ricans coming from or moving back to the Island. Today, more Puerto Ricans live in the Continental US than in Puerto Rico. But no matter where they live, they exhibit a constant pride of their origin, culture, language and, more relevant to my current role at the SBA, a great sense of entrepreneurship.
To nurture that entrepreneurial spirit, over the course of the past year I have been talking with Hispanic business leaders across New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. I have also met with various Hispanic Chambers of Commerce throughout the Region. During those conversations, several recurrent topics have been highlighted to help businesses expand and grow, such as need for more capital, more incentives to small businesses, more opportunities for Hispanic workers, faster permitting processes and the need for immigration reform. All these topics are being addressed proactively by the White House.
President Obama understands that Hispanic-Americans account for two-thirds of the country’s population growth and are currently experiencing an unacceptably high unemployment rate of 11.3 percent. He has proposed the American Jobs Act to help the entire Nation, and particularly Americans like the nearly one million Hispanic-Americans who have been out of work for more than six months.
The American Jobs Act reflects a commitment to strengthen the recovery and help increase access to jobs, after all Hispanic-Americans are helping form the backbone of America’s labor force. President Obama believes that we must take action to support hard working families that drive our nation’s prosperity and growth and is prepared to act on this plan. For instance, as part of the American Jobs Act, tax cuts will benefit 250,000 Hispanic-owned small businesses. By proposing tax cuts that will go to every small business nationwide, providing incentives to hire and make new investments.
Extending unemployment insurance will directly benefit 1.1 million Hispanics and their families, while providing targeted support for long-term unemployment. Also, nearly one million Hispanics who have been out of work for six months or more will be able find a job. The American Jobs Act recognizes that Hispanic youths are unemployed at a staggering 19.3 percent and the President proposed to build on successful programs like the TANF Emergency Contingency Fund to create jobs and provide training for those hardest-hit by the recession.
By extending the payroll tax cut next year, the President’s plan will help increase paychecks of 25 million Hispanic workers by providing more money to spend in our communities and support our families. And, since the strength of our communities is important we need to make a commitment to rebuilding and revitalizing them across the country, targeting communities hardest-hit by the recession, focusing on infrastructure, school construction with significant commitment to large urban school districts and revitalizing communities that have been devastated by foreclosures.
As you can see, the American Jobs Act is a big plan that invests in America and will help revitalize communities and help you keep more money and find work for the long term unemployed. Read more about the American Jobs Act and if you have comments or suggestions I encourage you to contact me or go to the www.SBA.gov website for more information.
Jorge Silva-Puras is the Regional Administrator for Region II, (NY, NJ, PR & USVI) at the US Small Business Administration.