By Jesus Altamirano, Regional Field Coordinator, National Council of La Raza
Americans from all walks of life take a leap of faith when they decide to open a business. Marjorie, the owner of Azucar Bakery whose story is featured this week, is one of many successful small business owners helping to strengthen Colorado’s economy. But because of automatic federal budget cuts initiated by sequestration, the services and training that Denver residents like Marjorie need to turn their entrepreneurial dreams into a reality are being cut back.
Year after year, Mi Casa Resource Center, an NCLR Affiliate dedicated to advancing the economic success of Latino and working families in the Denver Metro area, offers workshops to local aspiring entrepreneurs who are often unaware of the regulations and costs associated with owning a business. With the help of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), Mi Casa Resource Center brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to community members ready to start their own businesses. In fact, Mi Casa’s entrepreneurial training classes helped Marjorie secure her first loan to get her business, which by the way offers irresistible Peruvian pastries, off the ground. Unfortunately, Mi Casa’s contract with SBA will be reduced thanks to the approximately $902 million in cuts to SBA loan guarantees. This means that future entrepreneurs like Marjorie will not have access to free and low-cost business training and counseling programs.
A recent budget proposal from the House of Representatives would place 66 percent of its budget cuts on programs that serve low-income people, while providing tax breaks that mainly benefit wealthy people and corporations. This runs counter to the priorities of Colorado’s Latino community. According to a new NCLR survey, an overwhelming 93 percent of registered Latino voters in Colorado believe that balancing the federal budget should not place an undue burden on vulnerable seniors and families. And, 55 percent of participants agree that high-income individuals and corporations should pay more to reduce the deficit.
It’s time to decide our priorities—tax breaks for billionaires and corporations that are recording some of their biggest profit margins ever or programs for small business owners like Marjorie who are helping to boost local economies and get people back to work.