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News & Press: Chairman's Message

Chairman's Message: March 2016

Tuesday, March 1, 2016   (0 Comments)
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Dear members and friends,



Before getting to my monthly message, I wanted to remind you and encourage you to register for our upcoming MDHCC Networking After 5 Spring Mixer. It will be held on April 7th at O'Brien's Oyster Bar & Restaurant, 113 Main Street Annapolis, Maryland 21401, from 5:30 until 8:00 p.m. Deputy Secretary of State, Luis Borunda, will be attending as our special VIP guest. We will also have some words from our partner, Morgan Stanley, great food, refreshments, and a fantastic opportunity to network not just with MDHCC members, but with members of our partner chambers. I invite you to register now and also check our upcoming events. Now let’s get back to the monthly message.

It is hard to say “as spring begins and the temperature rises” since we had such a mild winter and more than a couple of days in the 60s and 70s. Nevertheless, spring is here! Many of us will begin by, once again, tending to our gardens, and this reminds me of our small businesses. Because like farmers, we have to know when to do certain things in order to ensure that our business (the farmer’s garden) flourishes: When to hire, when to fire; when to buy, when to make; when to invest in our infrastructure and systems, and when to make those hardware pieces last as long as they can. Everything is about timing, but getting the timing right in business is sometimes hard.

We know that minority-owned businesses often struggle to grow to the point where they can hire their first employee. Here in Maryland in 2012, there were 37,447 Hispanic-American businesses. 33,883 of those firms, the overwhelming majority, had no paid employees. Still, Hispanic small business contributed over $4.5 billion in sales receipts in 2015 in Maryland and over $661 billion nationally.

Yet, we have heard very little from our presidential candidates on specific policies that will benefit small businesses. Policies that take into consideration the tremendous cost and burden of the reporting process, both at the state and national level.

In a recent Op-Ed by Hector Barreto, Chairman of The Latino Coalition and former Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration, Mr. Barreto asks, “Why aren't candidates competing to be the best small business advocate? And why aren't any of them addressing the disturbing fact that fewer people want to start businesses than ever before?”

The “disturbing fact” he refers to is the decline in business startups. Business startups used to outpace business closures by close to 100,000 businesses a year. Since 2008, fueled by the recession, business closures began to outpace business openings.

Our elected officials cannot create private-sector jobs, or make businesses grow; what they can do is create an environment that facilitates robust growth, and, like a functioning garden, cross-pollination that ensures the seeds from today result in new growth tomorrow. Instead of empty political promises like “I will create jobs,” our state’s small business owners need political leaders who are willing to ease burdens, improving our transportation infrastructure so that goods and people can get to where they need to be quickly (why does it still take 2.5 hours to take the train from Baltimore to NYC, when in Europe similar distances are traveled in less than 1 hour?), and targeted investment in education that actually prepares young people and retrains older workers for the 21st century global economy. Business incubators, specifically designed for the unique needs of Hispanics and another minorities, would also be received as a breath of fresh air.

As a community, we must insist on specifics, and we must insist that small businesses (27 million strong) and entrepreneurship are priorities in any candidate’s economic plan. After all, most people who finish high school or college will go to work for small to medium-sized firms—the engines of the American economy—not Fortune 500 corporations. I join Mr. Barreto when he says “Listen to small business. Listen to entrepreneurs, and to those in economically challenged populations who hope to become business owners. They'll be listening to you, and they'll be deciding whether you earn their vote.”




Jorge Eduardo Castillo
Maryland Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

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