08.01.14

Sens. Whitehouse & Reed Host Conversation With Minority Business Owners About Job Growth

Providence, RI – Today, during a luncheon at El Macuto Restaurant on Broad Street, U.S. Senators Sheldon Whitehouse and Jack Reed led a conversation with Rhode Island minority business owners about what they need to grow their businesses and create jobs in their communities.  Senator Whitehouse organized the luncheon and invited Rhode Island Senator Juan Pichardo, Rhode Island Representative Grace Diaz, U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Rhode Island Director Mark Hayward, Rhode Island Department of Labor & Training Director (RIDLT) Charles Fogarty, and HealthSource RI Director Christy Ferguson to join the conversation.

Topics of discussion included how best to aid minority businesses in accessing capital to grow and create jobs in their communities; health care, including a presentation from Director Ferguson on the resources available to small businesses through HealthSource RI; how sensible immigration reforms would help businesses find and keep the best talent and strengthen their businesses; and the Self-Employment Assistance Program administered by RIDLT, which assists those receiving unemployment insurance benefits to start their own businesses.

“I was glad to join business owners and community leaders in a conversation about what works for minority businesses and the resources available to help them succeed,” said Whitehouse. “Strengthening minority-owned businesses helps grow our economy and create jobs in low-income communities – a clear win-win.”

“It was a pleasure to join Senator Whitehouse and all the business leaders here today for a discussion on how to improve our economy and strengthen our communities.  When these businesses thrive, so do our neighborhoods and our state.  The conversation we had today is part of a larger discussion about how we can work together to move Rhode Island forward, and I’m committed to working with these business owners to connect them with the tools they need to flourish,” said Reed.

"I was glad to host this discussion with Senators Whitehouse and Reed to hear from local businesses about what they need to grow and hire,” said Senator Pichardo. “To get people back to work and improve our economy, we will need a healthy, growing small business community, and conversations such as this are helpful in getting our state back on track.”

“Our local businesses drive our economy, so it is essential they have the support they need.  I was happy to hear from local business owners today, and I was also glad to join Senators Reed and Whitehouse in their efforts to create and sustain the jobs Rhode Island families depend on,” said Representative Diaz.

Other attendees included Carmen Diaz-Jusino, Senior Program Manager at the Center for Women & Enterprise; Lisa Ranglin, Founder and President of the Rhode Island Black Business Association; Tomas Avila of the Rhode Island Latino Professional Business Leaders Network; and JR Neville Songwe, Executive Director of Urban Ventures Inc.

According to the SBA, Rhode Island is home to roughly 10,000 minority-owned businesses, accounting for approximately 10 percent of all businesses in the state.

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