Guest Commentary: National Hispanic Heritage Month holds an enduring place in the heart and soul of our nation
Each year from Sept. 15–Oct. 15, Americans celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month as a time to recognize the many contributions, diverse cultures, and extensive histories of the Latino community in the United States. Hispanic heritage and traditions hold an important place in the heart and soul of our nation, and this celebration reminds us that the American identity is a fabric of diverse traditions and stories woven together. During National Hispanic Heritage Month, we reaffirm that diversity is one of our country’s greatest strengths.
The Biden-Harris administration and U.S. Small Business Administration Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman are committed to the success of Hispanic communities. More Hispanics than ever before are seizing the opportunity to create new businesses that improve their cities and neighborhoods. Data shows that five million Latino-owned businesses contribute $800 billion each year to our economy. In the past decade, Latino entrepreneur growth rates have risen 10 times faster than non-Latino business rates. In Colorado, Hispanics own nearly 73,000 small businesses in the state, employing thousands of workers and steadily contributing to the local economy. Hispanics comprise approximately 20% of the state’s workforce.
Both President Biden and Administrator Guzman – the highest-ranking Latina in the President’s Cabinet, have made strengthening our Hispanic-owned small businesses a priority. Over the last 33 months, we have seen the fastest creation rate of Hispanic-owned businesses in over a decade, which was more than 20% faster than pre-pandemic levels. The president made a goal of increasing by 50% the number of federal contracting dollars going to small, disadvantaged businesses by 2025, which would translate to an additional $100 billion for minority-owned and other underserved businesses and help more Americans realize their entrepreneurial dreams.
President Biden directed the development of an ambitious, government-wide interagency plan to advance equity, justice, and opportunity for Latino communities. The SBA established four equity goals that focus on direct assistance including:
Goal 1 – Improve access to capital for underserved communities, including Hispanic small business owners: SBA is investing in additional technology to match underserved borrowers with Community Financial Institutions, including Community Development Financial Institutions. For borrowers, application requirements will be simplified, data will integrate automatically, a high-quality customer service support system will be available, and the process will be mobile-friendly.
Goal 2 – Expand access to federal procurement and contracting opportunities: SBA will enroll more small, disadvantaged businesses into its business development and contracting programs including the 8(a) Business Development program, HUBZone program, and Economically Disadvantaged Women-Owned Small Business certification program. The goal is to strengthen those businesses’ capabilities to compete and perform on contracts.
Goal 3 – Provide support and expanded access to disaster assistance: SBA will work with its field and program offices to develop a systematic and formal process with its resource partners to assist minority-owned businesses with disaster loans, including application completion, reconsiderations, credit repair, as well as managerial and technical services.
Goal 4 – Increase access to business counseling, training, and services: SBA will investigate innovative approaches for reaching Hispanic and immigrant clients through its Community Navigators Pilot Program, Women’s Business Centers, Small Business Development Centers, SCORE, and Procurement Technical Assistance Centers.
This equity plan is in addition to the legislative successes over the last three years including the American Rescue Plan, the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, and the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, which makes urgent investments that will bring down costs, level the playing field, and open historic opportunities for America’s 33 million small businesses and innovative startups – especially those businesses owned by minorities, women, and veterans.
During National Hispanic Heritage Month, we carry on the important work of honoring Hispanic culture and entrepreneurship. Let us give thanks to the many generations of Hispanic leaders who have helped build this country and continue to fight for equality and justice. Let us pledge to invest in the next generation of Hispanic men and women entrepreneurs who hold the destiny of our Nation in their hands. For more information on SBA’s programs and services, please visit sba.gov and remember to follow us on X (Twitter) @SBArockymtn and @SBA_Colorado.
Aikta Marcoulier is the SBA’s regional administrator in Denver. She oversees the agency’s programs and services in Colorado, Montana, Utah, North Dakota, South Dakota, and Wyoming. Frances Padilla is the Colorado District Director.