We want facts, not words. I have always loved this philosophy because changes are driven by actions and not by pretty political rhetoric.
The Illinois Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (IHCC) and the Black Chamber of Commerce of Illinois (BCCI) joined and organized a Historic Congressional Delegation Roundtable that allowed us to communicate to members of the Federal Congress our concerns about the Opportunity Zones program. We want actions now!
We are committed to making this federal program to foster better private investment in low-income communities and really to offer tax incentives to qualified Hispanic investors.
The Illinois government has the responsibility of selecting the Opportunity Zones, but we have seen how few Hispanic communities in our state receive those benefits. Why, for example, “La Villita” is not an Opportunity Zone?
With the notable presence and support of the congressmen Jesus “Chuy” Garcia and Robin Kelly, whom I personally thank for their commitment to our organization, we had the opportunity to communicate our concerns to the men and women who make the decisions.
Mark Ferguson, Illinois Deputy District Director US Small Business Administration, was a privileged witness of the meeting. With his presence, he supported the actions of our IHCC in defense of the interests of Hispanic companies.
We are working obsessively to boost the economic activity through small businesses and demonstrate the minorities’ significance for the local, state, and national economy. That is one of my goals as President and CEO of IHCC.
The City of Chicago recommended 133 low-income districts in total to the state. There are 900 other districts in the rest of the state supposedly also receiving tax exemptions, but we do not see minorities getting such aid.
We are also focusing on Latino businesses having more and better access to capital.
We want Hispanic-led small subcontractors to receive low-interest loans to guarantee their operation during the completion of their works since they often suffer by the late Government payment.
If, despite the little support, Latino businesses continue growing and generating jobs, can you imagine everything we can do with that help?
The Congress must have the mandate to modifying the areas of opportunity and boosting economic activity. And that is why, with our friends at BCCI, we decided to step forward and raise our concerns.
I also thank Betsy Zeigler, CEO of 1871, recently named the most influential Business Incubator in the world, for supporting the organization of the event as a host and for her active participation driving support for small businesses led by women and minorities.
We, the Business Chambers, have to do everything in our power to defend the interests of our partners and create new opportunities.
We show that we are united. And we are going to monitor that, from Congress in Washington, DC, that support gets to latino neighborhoods and communities in Illinois that, for years, have been forgotten.
We are united in this. We want to hear less rhetoric and see more actions.