Saturday, April 20, 2024

Biden & Treasury Secretary Yellen; Latinos will Help with COVID Recovery

President Biden and U.S. Treasury Secretary, Janet Yellen, acknowledged the toll that the pandemic has taken on Latino businesses and workers and reassured them that they’ll receive help to bounce back and would be key in leading the latest economic recovery.

Yesterday, during the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s (USHCC) Legislative Summit Biden stated, “I know how hard it’s been the last two years. It isn’t easy to hang a closed sign on a dream or a family legacy that you poured your heart into building.” Biden and Yellen said that Latinos would be helped by the first pandemic relief package passed under the administration, the American Rescue Plan.

Biden also pointed to some of the assistance including emergency support for rehiring employees, a Small Business Opportunity Fund, grants for “mom-and-pop- restaurants, food trucks and food stands” and community navigators to connect small businesses with programs for people without bankers. Yellen said the disproportionate hit on Latinos won’t be as long-lasting as other economic recessions and Latinos would drive the recovery.

She stated, “[Latino] entrepreneurs can lead us out of a crisis again. “I know [Latino] workers can power our recovery, potentially in an even bigger way than a decade ago, so long as we remove the long-standing barriers that have been in your way.” She also expressed that if someone designed an economic crisis to cause harm to the [Latino] community, “they would probably come up with something that looks like Covid-19.”

Businessman Victor Aria, a USHCC board member, said approval rates for loans for Latino business remain very low. Businesses owned by Latinas have has twice the closure rate as all Latino-owned businesses. He said that in food services, one in four Latino businesses closed.

Yellen pointed to what she called the irony of the Latino community outperforming others in the creation of new businesses while having less access to capital to create and grow them. She said the administration has begun to give some of the support Latinos need through funding for childcare for essential workers in the American Rescue Plan. The Department of Treasury plans to inject $4 billion into Community Development Financial Institutions and Minority Depository Institutions.

She ended her statement by saying, “I’m confident that when someone looks back at the economic data around the pandemic, it won’t simply conclude that Hispanic businesses and workers were the victim of a 2020 economy. They will see they were builders of a better one in 2021 and beyond.”