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Latino entrepreneurs optimistic on US economy

The president of staffing and consulting firm ETC, Irma Diaz-Gonzalez (2nd from L), poses with Bank of America Small Business Division executive Elizabeth Romero; dentist and small business owner Giancarlo Aymerich; and restaurateur Tracy Vaught during a gathering of business leaders in Houston on Monday, March 4. EFE-EPA/Ana Maria Alarcon

The president of staffing and consulting firm ETC, Irma Diaz-Gonzalez (2nd from L), poses with Bank of America Small Business Division executive Elizabeth Romero; dentist and small business owner Giancarlo Aymerich; and restaurateur Tracy Vaught during a gathering of business leaders in Houston on Monday, March 4. EFE-EPA/Ana Maria Alarcon

EFE

Hispanic small business owners in the United States are more optimistic about the prospects for their companies and for the broader economy than their non-Latino peers, according to a report presented here Monday by Bank of America.

The results of the 2019 Hispanic Small Business Owner Spotlight survey indicate that nearly nine in every 10 Latino owners plan to expand their businesses in the next 12 months, compared with 67 percent of non-Hispanics.

“There is a lot of optimism and a great level of confidence among Hispanic business owners,” Elizabeth Romero, an executive with BofA’s Small Business Division, said during a panel discussion in Houston, center of the country’s fourth-most-populous metropolitan area, which is home to 2.11 million Latinos.

Latino entrepreneurs are notably bullish about growth in revenue and employment, she said.

Bank of America surveyed 1,067 owners of small businesses, defined as firms with annual revenue in the range of $100,000 and $4.9 million employing anywhere from two to 99 people.

Asked about hiring in 2019, 51 percent of the Hispanics said they planned to add staff this year, nearly twice the proportion among non-Latino owners, 26 percent.

Sixty-eight percent of Latino business owners said they expected their firms’ financial situation to improve over the next 12 months, while 54 percent of non-Hispanics expressed that sentiment.

Regarding the US economy as a whole, majorities of both Hispanics (59 percent) and non-Hispanics (55 percent) said they were counting on improvement.

The chief worries cited by Latino business owners were health-care costs (70 percent), prices of basic goods (61 percent) and potential disruptions resulting from the trade policies of President Donald Trump (60 percent).

Another focus of the BofA study was on how small business owners are responding to a tightening labor market that is making it more difficult “to attract and retain talent.”

While 70 percent of Latino respondents said they were adjusting their recruitment strategies to cope with the new conditions, compared with 55 percent of non-Hispanics.

Flexible work schedules, the option of telecommuting, incentive pay and opportunities for professional development were all mentioned by Hispanic business owners as tools they use to attract high-quality employees.

“We recommend offering flexible schedules because it’s very popular among millennials and young mothers,” said panel member Irma Diaz-Gonzalez, president and CEO of recruitment, staffing and consulting company ETC.


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