Tampa, Fla. – The head of the Small Business Administration under President George W. Bush says that Hispanic small businesses are in jeopardy.
Hector Barreto, the former Bush official, said there are many intangible factors inhibiting Hispanic small business growth. And Latino business owners, he said, are filled with uncertainty.
“Right now, a lot of small business owners are scared," Barreto said on Tuesday, "they are afraid, they see the last four years as very very tough years…and they don’t know what the future holds."
Most small businesses started in the United States are owned Latinos.
Between 2002 and 2007, the number of Hispanic firms grew faster than the national average of 44 percent in 28 states, according to the US Minority Business Development Agency. Between 2002 and 2007, Hispanic-owned firms outpaced the growth of non-minority firms in gross receipts (56 percent Hispanic growth), employment (26 percent), and number of firms (44 percent).
But like other small business owners, this significant segment of the economy is feeling the pinch of the ailing economy.
“It’s been one of the worst environments for small business since 1930s,” Barreto said. “Small business is the engine that fuels the economy, if small business isn’t working the economy is not working.”
Energy costs, increased taxes, regulatory environment, and "Obamacare" are combining to hurt the heart of Hispanic small business owners, Barreto told Fox News Latino.
He said businesses are weary about the environment and it’s causing an “analysis paralysis,” where those interested in starting small businesses do not do so out of fear of regulations and lack of confidence in the economy.
“We’ve got to give them confidence,” he said of the role of government.
Barreto, who is also the president of the Latino Coalition, an organization that represents Latino interests, with senior executives of many Fortune 500 companies and government agencies, said when he was in office it was about the three C’s.
“We helped them get capital, we helped them get capacity, and we helped them get contracts,” Barreto told Fox News Latino.
Barreto takes pride in his record with the SBA, where he exceeded all previous records in small business loans, women- and minority-owned business support. He'd like to see more help for Latinos who want to start businesses.
“Latinos need the same thing that every other business needs,” he said. “But there are a lot of new businesses and sometimes they need a little help transitioning.”
Watch video above for more of the interview.
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Bryan Llenas currently serves as a New York-based correspondent for Fox News Channel (FNC) and a reporter for Fox News Latino (FNL). Follow him on Twitter @BryanLlenas