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The Best of Times.

By Hector Barreto.

During the 2016 election cycle, I often asked people in our community: “Is this the best of times or worst of times for Latinos in the U.S.?”

C’s goal for our members is the creation of lasting wealth, particularly through the establishment and growth of our own businesses.

I’m proud to say that helping Latinos with small-business ownership can be like helping fish to swim. The entrepreneurial spirit in our community is incredible: Hispanics are 1.5 times more likely than the general population to become entrepreneurs and Hispanic-owned businesses are growing at 15 times the national growth rate. The fastest growing segment of all demographic business groups is Latina-owned businesses – increasing in number by a rate of nearly 140 percent since 2007.

My own small-business education started in my father’s businesses. He was an immigrant who rose from working hourly jobs to being a business owner and business leader, eventually establishing the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and becoming an advisor to a U.S. President. But Hector Barreto Sr.’s businesses, believe me, were run, day-to-day, by my mother!

At the same time Latina-owned businesses starting out-pacing other groups, small-business ownership overall in this country has been declining – a very dangerous trend for the American economy. Lawmakers’ awareness about this trend varies, but interest in small-business empowerment and growth is nearly universal among elected officials, meaning our community has a compelling story to tell.

TLC member Irma Aguirre, owner of El Sombrero Mexican Bistro in Las Vegas, Nev., has already had an opportunity to tell her story to President Donald Trump. Irma was invited to the White House on the day President Trump signed an executive order to reduce federal regulations – a top concern for small businesses. Irma told me afterwards that she has been inspired by Trump’s optimism and desire to tap into the potential of every American business and individual

Not long after Irma met with the President, TLC held a policy summit in Washington, D.C. where Vice President Mike Pence, Small Business Administration Administrator Linda McMahon and Deputy Director for the Office of White House Liaison Jenny Korn all spoke to our group with a message of friendship and support. “The Trump Administration will be the best friend American small businesses will ever have because when small business is strong, the American economy is strong,” Pence told us.

There is no doubt in my mind that business ownership is the most powerful vehicle for the creation of wealth in our community, and I believe the time for small-business empowerment is now. Members of Congress and the Trump administration have shown they care about the creation and proliferation of independently owned businesses; it’s our job to tell them what kind of environment we need to do what comes naturally to us.

The Latino Coalition is the first in line when it comes to telling elected officials at all levels – federal, state and local – what’s best for small-business creation and growth. We’re demanding more affordable health care, a more reasonable regulatory environment, affordable energy and lower, simpler taxes.

Improving the environment for business creation and growth will unleash the incredible potential of our uniquely entrepreneurial community, making the years ahead the best of times for Latinos.

Hector Barreto is the Chairman of The Latino Coalition and the former Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration.