El Prospero: Hispanic businesses are at forefront of small-business growth

By:  U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich

Hispanic-owned businesses in Doña Ana County and across New Mexico are critical to strengthening our state’s economy.

In recent decades, Hispanic immigrant entrepreneurs have grown exponentially. According to a 2014 study from the Partnership for a New American Economy, the number of Hispanic immigrant business owners in the United States has more than quadrupled, growing from 321,000 to 1.4 million from 1990 to 2012.

And in New Mexico, Hispanic-owned businesses account for more than 23 percent of the state’s total businesses, more than any other state in the country.

While this is great progress toward building a stronger economy for southern New Mexico, we see, far too often, that language barriers prevent hopeful entrepreneurs from taking the next step to expand their business or start a new venture because their primary language is Spanish.

As New Mexicans, we take pride in our state’s bilingualism. It’s one of our strengths; many government documents are written in both English and Spanish, and there are protections for Spanish speakers in our state constitution. Therefore our efforts to give prospective Spanish-speaking business owners the tools and opportunity to move their ideas forward must be robust, especially if we want to continue growing southern New Mexico’s bi-national culture and economy.

Earlier this month, my office, the Las Cruces Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and other local groups in Doña Ana County hosted “¡Si Se Puede!,” a Spanish-language small business conference designed to help entrepreneurs expand or start small businesses.

Attendees participated in workshops and were provided with local resources and tools to start, expand, finance, and excel in their industries.

The conference was also an opportunity for participants to hear from local business leaders, including the owners of popular bi-national restaurants Carnitas Queretaro and La Choza, and learn how to maximize visibility and navigate through the business startup and expansion processes. While we’ve seen positive economic signs across the country, more work remains to be done in New Mexico to expand our small business sector. I remain deeply committed to doing all I can to make that happen.

Lastly, I recognize that listening to the needs and voices of all constituent groups is key to building a better New Mexico.

I encourage you to share your comments, suggestions and questions. Please contact my Las Cruces office any time at (575) 523-6561 or visit my website www. Heinrich. Senate. gov if I can be of assistance to you and your family.

It is an honor and privilege to serve you in the U.S. Senate.