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Celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month

Celebrating National Hispanic Heritage Month

By Jeanne Hulit, Former Acting SBA Administrator
Published: September 18, 2013 Updated: September 18, 2013

This month, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) recognizes the vital contribution of Hispanic American small business owners to our economy as we observe and celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month.  We know that America’s 28 million small businesses are the engine of job creation in our country, and minority-owned businesses are one of the fastest-growing segments of new businesses in today’s economy. 

Last year, we announced a new partnership with the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC)  to help support the many Hispanic American small business owners and entrepreneurs who are growing their businesses and creating jobs. In fact, yesterday I visited El Paso, Texas where I had the opportunity to meet with El Paso’s local Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and highlight the many ways SBA helps these business owners access the capital, counseling, federal contracting opportunities and disaster assistance they need to start and grow a business.

According to the Urban Institute, SBA loans are 3 to 5 times more likely to go to women and minority-owned businesses than conventional loans.  And since President Obama took office, SBA has supported nearly 17,000 loans for a total of more than $6 billion, including more than 3,500 loans in FY 2013 for a total of more than $1.2 billion.

SBA’s programs and resources have already helped small business owners like Anthony Tenorio, winner of SBA’s New Mexico Small Business Person of the Year in 2013. 

Tenorio is the Chairman and CEO of Applied Technology Associates (ATA), a company which supplies precision measurement, sensing and controls devices to commercial and government clients in Albuquerque, New Mexico.  He began his career at ATA in 1983, developing sophisticated data systems that supported U.S. Air Force research projects.  And under his leadership as CEO and principal owner, ATA has become one of America’s fastest-growing Hispanic-owned small businesses. 

In growing ATA, Tenorio took advantage of a number of SBA tools and resources including an SBA 504 loan and our Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program.  He is also a graduate of SBA’s 8(a) Business Development program, designed to help small, disadvantaged businesses compete for federal contracts—even winning SBA’s Prime Contractor of the Year Award in 2004.

Across its programs, SBA is dedicated to filling gaps in training and access for existing business owners, particularly in traditionally underserved communities. For example, in FY 2012 and 2013 alone, approximately 160,000 Hispanic entrepreneurs and business owners have already received business counseling and training services through SBA and our resource partners.

We also know that microloans are a critical resource as we try to reach more business owners, and microlending to Hispanic American-owned small businesses has increased dramatically under the Obama Administration.  In 2009, microloans to Hispanic American small business owners accounted for approximately 14 percent of all SBA-supported microloans.  Today, they account for more than 35 percent of all SBA-supported microloans, with more than 1,400 microloans for a total of more than $8 million to date in FY 2013.

As President Obama has said, “Hispanic Americans have written crucial chapters in our national story…they run successful businesses, teach our next generation of leaders, and pioneer scientific and technological breakthroughs.”  At the SBA, we know that an economy built to last includes supporting and fostering entrepreneurship opportunities in Hispanic American communities and communities across America, and we remain committed to ensuring that more entrepreneurs have the access and opportunity they need to succeed.

About the Author:

Jeanne Hulit

Former Acting SBA Administrator

Jeanne Hulit is the Acting Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration. The SBA helps both Main Street and high-growth small businesses get access to capital, counseling, federal contracts, disaster assistance and more.