Latino business leaders from all over the country, including the Washington area's Tony Jimenez, CEO of Tysons Corner MicroTech, gathered at the White House on Wednesday to share insights on economic problems and potential solutions.
They were lending their voices to the White House Business Council's inaugural Hispanic Business Leaders Forum with the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
In an interview, Jimenez revealed what he learned at the conference and discussed local Latino business prospects in this economic environment.
What did you discuss and learn about at the forum? It was the first time that we had an opportunity for Hispanic business men and women from around the nation to get together and talk about a number of issues affecting America, primarily about job creation, job opportunity, how to make sure small startup businesses have access to capital. Without this access you can't create businesses, and you can't create jobs. A lot of the discussion was primarily around the economy, talking about how to create opportunities for all women and men regardless of sex, creed, race, etc. The more opportunities provided to everybody, the sooner the economy will be back.
We talked about the absence of Hispanics in large corporations. We would want a little bit more diversity, more Hispanics at Fortune500 companies and Hispanics in the administration. Right now we have none, with Tom Perez to be confirmed. We're hoping that's not the only Hispanic who gets the opportunity to serve in the administration as a Cabinet member.
What were your impressions of the conference and the White House? It was pretty much getting a little bit of an education on what are some of the issues facing the nation, how we as Hispanic Americans can help, what we can do to help create jobs and opportunities. As business leaders, our focus is, how can we continue to grow our businesses? It was an amazing day. It's always a good day to go to the White House to talk about what you can do as an American. It's important as a citizen if you're asked to help to be willing to dedicate some time and effort to do your part to help the administration's success.
What do you think will result from the conference? I don't know that it'll result in policy changes. It'll result in situational awareness; the Hispanic voice is a loud voice and it's a voice that needs to be heard. President Obama has acknowledged the fact that the Hispanic vote is significant, and I think it'll be an integral part of every election.
How would you evaluate the growth of Latino business in the D.C. area? I can tell you that they're more prevalent. We're seeing Hispanics in all industries, not just what we've been stereotypically been thought of to be involved in. We're seeing a real resurgence.
What has been the strongest aspect of growth in Latino businesses in the area? Probably the desire to contribute, the desire to be part of the Washington economy. The important part is, everyone wants to do their part; we all want to be successful, and through that success, create more jobs and grow businesses, which is the ultimate American dream.
What areas should Latino business leaders improve upon? We need more access to capital, and we need more opportunities. Hispanic business can focus primarily on industries they haven't been able to get into previously because now there are ways and opportunities for everybody to get involved in them.
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