Lati­nos mark Small Busi­ness Satur­day

Times-Herald (Vallejo) - - OPINION - — Alma Her­nan­dez/Board Chair of the Solano His­panic Cham­ber of Com­merce — Will Ozier/Va­cav­ille — Sharon McGriff Payne/ Vallejo

Lati­nos are lead­ing the na­tion in small busi­ness star­tups, ac­cord­ing to a new re­port from Con­gres­sional Joint Eco­nomic Com­mit­tee and the Con­gres­sional His­panic Cau­cus.

The study, re­leased ear­lier this year, notes that “Lati­nos are 1.7 times more likely to start businesses,” com­pared to other groups. Latino-owned businesses em­ploy 2.7 mil­lion Amer­i­cans and con­trib­ute more than $700 mil­lion to the econ­omy each year.

Cal­i­for­nia, as the state with the largest Latino pop­u­la­tion in the coun­try, is lead­ing this wave.

In Solano we are a liv­ing ex­am­ple of this new mo­men­tum around start-up and small busi­ness. In our county we ex­pe­ri­enced a 4 per­cent growth in businesses from 2017-18 and hope to have the same for this year. A large por­tion of that is small His­panic busi­ness own­ers.

I’m now in my sev­enth year on the board of the Solano County His­panic Cham­ber, and through­out my term I’ve been in­cred­i­bly proud to see Latino businesses grow and thrive.

When the cham­ber be­gan, it was out of a need to sup­port a pop­u­la­tion that was his­tor­i­cally un­der­served. While we still have a long way to go in achiev­ing full equity on that front, I’m proud to say that we’ve been able to start giv­ing back to the com­mu­nity in other ways as well — through schol­ar­ships, lead­er­ship train­ing for women, and busi­ness awards, to name a few.

Our idea is to use in­no­va­tive part­ner­ships to con­tinue growth in the com­ing years. We have started this with an is­sue that is very im­por­tant to the Bay Area and to our com­mu­nity — en­ergy use and con­ser­va­tion.

The Cal­i­for­nia His­panic Cham­bers of Com­merce, which our cham­ber is a mem­ber of, re­cently formed a part­ner­ship with En­ergy Up­grade Cal­i­for­nia for Small Busi­ness Satur­day. Fall­ing this year on Nov. 30, Small Busi­ness Satur­day is a coun­ter­point to Black Fri­day — a day when the com­mu­nity cen­ters on lo­cal shops rather than big-name re­tail­ers. We are proud that Solano His­panic Cham­ber of Com­merce fea­tures over 300 Latino-owned businesses, giv­ing shop­pers plenty of op­tions to get their hol­i­day shopping in while also con­tribut­ing to our mis­sion of a vi­brant and di­verse small busi­ness com­mu­nity.

More­over, by part­ner­ing with En­ergy Up­grade Cal­i­for­nia, the Cal­i­for­nia His­panic Cham­bers of Com­merce is help­ing our state reach its en­ergy goals as part of our fo­cus on sus­tain­abil­ity.

It’s ex­cit­ing to think that on

Satur­day, shop­pers will be able to pick up en­ergy tips and free eco-friendly give­aways at par­tic­i­pat­ing businesses. Those who pledge to take a step, no mat­ter how small, to con­serve en­ergy will also be en­tered to win their choice of a so­lar charger or smart ther­mo­stat to jump-start their new com­mit­ment to en­ergy ef­fi­ciency.

Small Busi­ness Satur­day is even more im­por­tant, as we see so many lo­cal businesses suf­fer­ing from the im­pacts of on­line shopping, and com­mu­ni­ties strug­gling with the fu­ture of re­tail busi­ness. We are us­ing this time to em­pha­size the role of Latino entreprene­urs in our com­mu­ni­ties, whether it’s grab­bing a bite at a fam­ily-owned restau­rant or shopping in a small busi­ness owned by your neigh­bor, you’re sup­port­ing lo­cal, sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment and com­mu­nity em­pow­er­ment.

Trump’s claims of ex­ec­u­tive priv­i­lege, now will not so eas­ily be able to ig­nore their sub­poe­nas.

Trump’s Putin-in­spired as­sault on our cher­ished Con­sti­tu­tion and the rule of law is col­laps­ing as the wave of his un­bounded cor­rup­tion de­vours it­self. No man is above the law in Amer­ica.

Per­haps he’ll soon re­sign. I know, wish­ful think­ing, but ...

What a great Christ­mas present to Amer­ica and the world!

The BSU 21 en­dure

This year marks the 50th an­niver­sary of an al­most for­got­ten Solano Ju­nior Col­lege (that’s what it was called back then) sit-in protest that re­sulted in the ar­rest of 21 African-Amer­i­can stu­dents.

I was one of those stu­dents. We were charged, tried and con­victed of mis­de­meanor tres­pass­ing for our re­fusal to leave a class­room. Back then, the col­lege was lo­cated in north Vallejo. Solano County District At­tor­ney E. Glynn Stan­ley, who wanted to show he was tough on crime, re­port­edly spent more than $1 mil­lion — a record at that time — to make us an ex­am­ple and teach us a les­son.

A lit­tle back­ground: Just a year ear­lier in 1968, I was among the found­ing mem­bers of the col­lege’s Black Stu­dent Union, a group ded­i­cated to ad­vo­cate for the ed­u­ca­tional and cul­tural is­sues of African-Amer­i­can stu­dents on cam­pus. It was a tur­bu­lent time on col­lege cam­puses na­tion­wide — and Vallejo was no dif­fer­ent.

At that time, you could count the African-Amer­i­can fac­ulty on one hand and still have fin­gers left. There were no classes in African-Amer­i­can his­tory and col­lege ad­min­is­tra­tors ruled the cam­pus like dic­ta­tors. We, young and ide­al­is­tic, watch­ing the civil rights move­ment un­fold all around us — es­pe­cially the stu­dent up­ris­ings on nu­mer­ous col­lege and univer­sity cam­puses.

We, too, wanted change. Our protests — there were many — and our sub­se­quent ar­rests were cat­a­lyst for that change we sought. Within the year of our ar­rests, the col­lege hired more AfricanAme­r­i­can fac­ulty, in­sti­tuted a Black Stud­ies Pro­gram, as well as other multi-cul­tural cur­ricu­lum, and ad­min­is­tra­tors started lis­ten­ing to stu­dents. Even then, we re­al­ized that our ac­tivism had cre­ated change.

We were vic­to­ri­ous. In re­cent weeks, both the Solano Com­mu­nity Col­lege Pres­i­dent, Dr. Celia Es­pos­ito Noy, and Solano County District At­tor­ney Kr­ishna Abrams have reached out to some of the BSU 21 to of­fer amends of sort for the puni­tive ac­tions of their pre­de­ces­sors. While those ges­tures are im­por­tant and well mean­ing, the 1969 county district at­tor­ney’s prophetic plan to “teach us a les­son” in­deed came true. I learned that real, last­ing change of­ten comes with a price. The BSU 21 stood up for change 50 years ago, but the strug­gle en­dures.

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