Navigating the Panama Canal expansion
Smoother shipping is swamping previous controversies
January 24, 2017
By: Hector Barreto
On Dec. 14, the Chinese ship YM Unity became the 500th vessel to pass successfully through the expanded Panama Canal. The new set of locks and deeper navigation channels represent a technological feat that nearly triples container capacity, while using 7 percent less water than the original canal. Now, a total of 140 maritime routes and 1,700 ports around the globe are connected by the expanded canal.
Yet despite the obvious accomplishments, much of what has thus far been written about the expanded canal has ranged from mildly skeptical to downright negative. These criticisms have focused on cost overruns, missed deadlines, the impact of flagging global trade, and safety concerns.
Part of this negativity comes with the territory: an expectation that all large and complex construction projects will come in over budget and behind schedule. The canal expansion was significantly over budget and its opening delayed by 18 months. Still, colossal construction projects often involve cost overruns and delays, largely due to unforeseen conditions, common in all but the most routine construction. Take for example Boston’s “Big Dig,” New York’s Second Avenue subway, the Eurotunnel, and the airports in Berlin and Doha, just to name a recent few.
Much has also been made of impact of the slowdown of global trade on the canal’s expected traffic. But this is a short-term view, and even if world trade were to remain flat for a time, more of that trade will go through the Panama Canal, which can now handle 79 percent of total global traffic, compared to only 45 percent that could fit through the original passageway.
Finally, just as the canal was nearing completion, reports surfaced about leaky locks, concrete flaws and tugboat problems. But the predictions of a poorly constructed canal, unprepared for its inauguration, just didn’t materialize. On the contrary, the canal has worked perfectly since its June 26 opening, and not one single construction flaw has been evidenced.
Even with tugboats guiding ships — a significant departure from the locomotives in use at the original canal — there has been only one minor operational incident. A Chinese vessel incurred a slight abrasion as it approached one of the locks. The damage was minimal precisely because the buffers, which are in place to deal with such situations, performed as expected. Further, as tugboat captains gain experience, this type of incident should be greatly minimized if not eliminated entirely.
When the stock market rallies or plunges, it is often based on human emotion – the optimistic or pessimistic sentiment of the people in business and finance. The recent market “Trump bump” is the latest example of how the business community’s emotional reaction to political news makes an important economic difference. This psychological component is equally powerful in the other half of the economy – the small-business sector. What will Donald Trump’s presidency mean to the half that creates two-thirds of our net new jobs? Signs point to a likely small business rally, and that’s big economic news
President-elect Trump’s pick to lead the U.S. Small Business Administration is the latest, and perhaps greatest, sign of what’s to come on the small-business front under the new president. Professional wrestling executive Linda McMahon is the real deal – someone who knows both what it is like to struggle to make ends meet while starting and building a family business, and what it is like to grow a business into a true American dream of tremendous success.
Even though her business success story is exceptional (small businesses typically don’t grow as large or become publicly traded companies), America’s small-business owners will see themselves in McMahon, and that’s important. She’s a risk taker and a patriot, and so are they. They’ll be grateful to know that someone who “gets” them is serving at the highest level of government, because entrepreneurs have felt dismissed by eight years of leadership in Washington, D.C. that didn’t seem to understand, or care, about them. They are hungry for leadership that understands their unique contributions, and their unique challenges.
McMahon’s extraordinary entrepreneurial success is also highly relevant to the job she will do as SBA administrator. She will relate to the smallest business, but has the experience of running a large organization and knows what it means to deliver a return on investment – in this case, to the American taxpayers. SBA is an agency with the capacity to excel at taxpayer ROI. When I was SBA administrator, the agency created an SBA Hall of Fame that included companies like Intel, FedEx and Apple – companies that received some form of SBA assistance (in the form of a loan, training or access to contracts) when they were young and small, and went on to become global change-agents and household names. Just one of those companies, today, contributes more federal income tax than the total budget of the SBA.
McMahon and Trump, together, will have the ability to help revive American small business through actual government assistance (SBA loans, training and federal contract opportunities), but also through something that is even more important: building entrepreneurial confidence.
Messages from Washington have the power to move small-business sentiment just as they do the stock market. A president and executive team can show small-business owners that they are a priority by enacting: tax reform for individuals (which is how small-business owners file their taxes); real regulatory reform (less is more!); trade deals that help the 97 percent of businesses engaging in trade that are small; and reducing the cost of health insurance through repealing and replacing Obamacare.
Creating an environment that is conducive to doing business will make small business feel good. And that matters. In fact, it is essential to producing the Trump administration’s goal of four percent economic growth.
President-elect Trump is a natural born cheerleader, which is exactly what small business needs in Washington, D.C. This is an economic sector that has been in decline, but one that has the ability to fuel the American economy like nothing else. Trump and McMahon can and should provide the emotional support the small-business sector, just like its big-business counterparts, inherently needs and deserves.
Hector Barreto, former Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration under President George W. Bush; chair of the Latino Coalition. (Copyright © 2015 Ringo Chiu. All Rights Reserved.)
Hector Barreto is the Chairman of The Latino Coalition and the former U.S. Small Business Administrator.
Cited: Fox Business News
Merry Christmas &
Happy New Year!
Feliz Navidad y Prospero Año Nuevo!
Dear Members, Partners, Friends:
What a year it has been! The Latino Coalition (TLC) enjoyed an eventful and productive year.
Our network of members and partners continues to grow, which means our ability to advocate on behalf of our membership is becoming even stronger.
Elected officials at the state and federal level have learned that TLC is the group to call, for the perspective and partnership they need from the Latino business and consumer community.
Our success enables TLC to continue offering something no other group does – the “four C’s”
* Capital Access
* Counseling to build capacity and grow.
* Connections for Contracts.
* Cost reduction – Strategies for healthcare premiums, one-size-fits-all regulations and high individual tax rates.
As we wrap up another great year, together we want to thank you for being part of the TLC community and helping us to build communities and partnerships for a stronger America.
We know with your continued support the best is yet to come in 2017 and beyond. We are grateful for your confidence and investment and look forward to your continued support for our shared mission and permanent interests.
Remember that it’s not too early to make New Year’s resolutions – like attending one or more events with TLC and being part of a historic journey for our country and communities.
On behalf of our members and partners,We wish you all the best this holiday season, and into the new year.
Leadership, Integrity, Community
Follow us and get information on TLC high impact events in 2017.
2017 Inaugural Event
January 18, 2017 Washington, DC
Legislative and Policy Summit: TBD
West Coast Summit
Los Angeles, CA
Small Business Summit
Midwest Small Business Summit
October 12, 2017
Kansas City, MO
Looking Back: 2016 Events
TLC events facilitate access and the tools your business needs to go to the next levels of success.
This year, our events featured centers of influence such as Governor Chris Christie, Mexican Ambassador, Carlos Manuel Sada Solana, Congressman Henry Cuellar, Congressman Carlos Curbelo, Senator John Cornyn, Congressman Mike Coffman, Congressman Sean Duffy, Congressman Jeff Denham, Zoila Escobar- President, AltaMed Foundation, Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez, Raul Anaya – President, Greater Los Angeles, Bank of America, and Congressman-elect Lou Correa.
The TLC Board of Directors and team, would like to wish you and your family a wonderful holiday season. We look forward to collaborating with you in 2017. It’s going to be an exciting power packed year full of opportunity for our Latino Coalition. Thank you for all you do for our community.
The Latino Coalition
TLC in News!
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Fox Business “The Small Business Trump Bump”
by SUZANNE GAMBOA
A Latino group headed by a former member of George W. Bush’s administration and a group associated with Republicans in Congress are staging an event around the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump.
The Latino Coalition, a small business group, and the Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute, CHLI, are combining for the event billed as a celebration of Trump’s Jan. 20 inauguration.
The Coalition is led by Hector Barreto who was chief of the Small Business Administration under Bush.
“The Latino Coalition is looking forward to working with the Trump administration to advance opportunities for Latinos, particularly through the unique vehicle of small-business ownership. Our celebration … will be just the beginning of what our two organizations believe will be a productive and collaborative relationship with the incoming administration,” Barreto said in statement.
Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) and Hector Barreto Jr. (2nd R). Mario Tama / Getty Images
The Jan. 18 event is not part of the official inaugural events that Trump’s inaugural committee is organizing.
The CHLI is a non-profit organized by members of the Congressional Hispanic Conference, the caucus of Hispanic Republicans in Congress. CHLI’s board includes current members of Congress, all Republicans. It also has a corporate advisory board. CHLI’s current board chairman is former Florida congressman Lincoln Diaz-Balart, brother to Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., chairman of the Congressional Hispanic Conference.
Saying he was speaking for the entire board of directors, Lincoln Diaz-Balart said in a statement “it is a genuine privilege for CHLI to host this important presidential inaugural event with The Latino Coalition. With great optimism, we look forward to a future of freedom and prosperity for all.”
The announcement of the event comes as Latino influence at the highest levels of the federal government appears to be about to take a plunge. Trump has tapped people for all but two of his Cabinet posts and none are Latino. He was meeting with Jovita Carranza, who worked in the Small Business Administration under Bush and is potentially a pick for the U.S. Trade Representative job and Luis Quinonez, a business owner, on Tuesday.
Obama had several Latino Cabinet secretaries in his administration, including the agency that Baretto headed – Small Business Administration. Obama elevated that position to Cabinet level position during his tenure.
Latinos who have served or are serving in the Obama Cabinet are: Ken Salazar, former Department of the Interior secretary; Hilda Solis, former Department of Labor secretary; Julián Castro, Housing and Urban Development secretary; Tom Perez, Labor Secretary; Maria Contreras-Sweet, Small Business Administration secretary; John King, Education Secretary, who is Afro Latino.
Obama also named Justice Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court and Karen Archuleta to head Office of Personnel Management, both non-Cabinet posts but key positions.
Cited: NBC News
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August 25, 2016
Donald Trump once promised he would do well with the Hispanic vote because he is “a job machine.”
While it is unclear why Trump thinks Hispanics might like jobs more than any other racial or ethnic group (doesn’t everyone love jobs?), one thing is clear: Trump is still not doing well in the polls with most Hispanics. A Fox News Latino poll recently revealed that 66 percent of Hispanics would vote for Hillary Clinton; only 20 percent were inclined toward Trump.
Here’s a helpful hint for Mr. Trump if he wants to change those numbers: There are many of us in the Hispanic community who have been hoping one or both of the major-party presidential candidates would become a champion of the specific kind of job creation that comes from new business creation. So far, neither candidate has.
As a group, Hispanics do stand out from the crowd on the issue of starting businesses. We are 1.5 times more likely than the general population to become entrepreneurs. For us, new business creation is about so much more than jobs – it’s about our own socio-economic mobility and the essence of American opportunity.
An opportunity in this area still exists for Trump, since Clinton has not shown herself to be particularly savvy to the power of new businesses, or sympathetic to the needs of entrepreneurs. Her economic plan ignored the most basic requirements of an entrepreneur-friendly environment: lower individual tax rates, fewer regulations and more affordable health insurance for the self-employed. In fact, Clinton’s plan promised the opposite, in many ways, of each of these.
Clinton should refine her economic plan with entrepreneurial Hispanics in mind. She cannot take our voting bloc for granted – not now, and not after her possible election. She also may want to consider the fact that, like other groups, Hispanics are looking for someone to support, to be truly ‘for,’ in this election. How much of her favorable polling with Hispanics reflects nothing more than a desire to vote against her opponent? Is that how she wants to win?
Trump’s economic plan nodded to the issues of taxation and regulation, but the businessman, oddly, did not link his policies to business creation. He should. If he does, Hispanic (and other) entrepreneurs will notice.
All of this said, I can’t promise an embrace of new business creation will change Latino votes, given Trump’s track record with our community. But shouldn’t both of these candidates try, even if only for the strength of their economic plans?
Any economist can tell you that most new jobs come from new businesses, particularly those that are defined as “gazelles.” The economic power of new businesses is therefore something that both candidates should champion, and one that many voting blocs can celebrate.
How have both Trump and Clinton missed the opportunity to lead on business creation – especially given its significance within the Hispanic community, a group whose votes they covet?
It is possible that neither Trump nor Clinton realize that Hispanics are uniquely entrepreneurial, and that Hispanic-owned businesses are growing at 15 times the national growth rate.
Ignorance would be a sorry excuse. Any candidate interested in economic growth should recognize that the Hispanic entrepreneurial phenomenon makes this population a significant and indispensible economic and electoral opportunity for anyone serious about winning elections or improving their bottom lines. Beyond being a key voting bloc, they are a rare bird in a landscape of otherwise-declining business dynamism, a bird that lays the golden eggs of business dynamism, innovation, GDP growth and, yes, jobs.
Cited: Latino Fox News
Hispanic-owned small businesses are the fastest growing segment of small businesses in the United States; in fact, the purchasing power of Latinos will soon surpass $1.3 trillion. As more and more Latinos achieve upward economic mobility, it’s important that opportunities for small business ownership continue to be encouraged.
Thanks to direct selling — the original, face-to-face way of getting goods and services into the hands of consumers — more than 20 million Americans have an opportunity to build a small business or larger, entrepreneurial venture. It isn’t surprising that a full fifth (nearly 20%) of people involved in direct selling are Hispanic-Americans.
Recently, a well-financed group of direct selling opponents, which many news stories say is being backed financially by billionaire short seller Bill Ackman — suggested that direct selling legislation in the United States House of Representatives would harm Latino small business owners. Direct selling is an economic engine for millions of individuals and working families within my community, who — with plenty of initiative and energy — stand to benefit by joining the growing ranks of Latino small business owners. It is important to set the record straight.
H.R. 5230 — The Anti-Pyramid Promotional Scheme Act of 2016 — is bi-partisan legislation supported by more than 15 members of Congress that would protect Latinos and all Americans from the financial risk associated with a direct selling small business by clearly defining in federal statute the difference between a legitimate small business and a fraud. The famous men’s retailer, entrepreneur and philanthropist Sy Syms once preached in his television commercials that “an educated consumer is our best customer.” That is precisely what this legislation hopes to achieve and why Hispanic leaders, in particular, need to support it. By knowing what constitutes pyramid scheme fraud, it will be easier for consumers to steer clear and for law enforcement to prosecute.
None of the legislation’s central provisions — that a pyramid scheme exists when compensation is based primarily on the act of recruitment (as opposed to retail sales) and that personal use, or being able to purchase products at a discount, is a legitimate business practice in direct selling — are new or outlandish. In fact, 49 states already have laws on the books banning pyramid schemes, numerous court decisions have used the same definition of a scheme that H.R. 5230 seeks to enact at the federal level and more than a third of the states have anti-pyramid statutes in force that protect personal use.
While this sensible, pro-consumer legislation is an important step forward when it comes to safeguarding Latinos and all Americans from financial risk, it is also worth remembering that direct selling, by its nature, involves substantially less risk than other entrepreneurial business efforts. First, it is attractive because of the low start-up costs — often only $100 or less — as opposed to the thousands or even millions associated with franchises or other types of small businesses. Second, the industry put into place years ago a rule that mandates all members of the Direct Selling Association buy back unused inventory at no less than 90% of the original purchase price.
Like so many other American families from all kinds of backgrounds, the key to my own family’s upward mobility was business ownership – a course that is still unparalleled in its ability to raise the income level and quality of life for all Americans. Let’s support H.R. 5230, sensible pro-consumer legislation that would build on the direct selling industry’s heritage of education and responsible self-regulation by helping Latinos and all Americans enjoy additional safeguards without compromising the direct selling model that has done so much for so many.
Cited: The Hill
By Hector Baretto
America needs more job creation, which by definition means it needs entrepreneurs. Meanwhile, the rising generation is living with mom and dad.
When the Pew Research Center recently announced that living-with-their-parents is the most popular living arrangement for 18-34 year olds for the first time in 130 years, reactions ranged from concern to eye rolling. But the societal and economic ramifications of this phenomenon are quite serious.
For example: To maintain economic strength and stability, the American economy needs a healthy percentage of each generation to do something bold, independent and important: Leverage their accumulated assets (usually home equity), embrace productive risk and become business owners.
Can we expect that enough basement-dwelling millennials will become entrepreneurs?
The American economy needs a healthy percentage of each generation to do something bold, independent and important: Leverage their accumulated assets (usually home equity), embrace productive risk and become business owners.
Think of the headwinds they face, beginning with student debt – a key driver of the living-at-home phenomenon:
Higher education and student loan expert Mark Kantrowitz says this year’s college graduates will have an average student loan debt of over $37,000 – the highest ever. This staggering level of debt sets up a financial domino effect that puts the American Dream of home ownership further out of reach and, in turn, the even-bigger dream of business ownership on ice.
The decline and disappearance of small, community banks create another headwind for would-be entrepreneurs, as these institutions have been the traditional lending source for small business.
The complexity of Dodd-Frank rules are often cited as a cause for small bank closures – one of many examples illustrating the fact that Millennials live in an economic and business environment made hostile by their own government.
Another example: Since the ironically named Affordable Care Act has taken effect, the cost of health insurance for the self-employed and small-business owners has increased, in many cases dramatically. According to the National Federation of Independent Business, 63 percent of small-business owners experienced premium increases between mid-2014 and mid-2015. The result, among other things, is a powerful dis-incentive for entrepreneurship and job creation.
More evidence of a hostile environment can be found in punishing tax and regulatory policies – particularly at the federal level – which continue to send a message that our government may care about jobs, but it doesn’t care (and/or understand) about job creators. The Department of Labor’s recent overtime rule provided a particularly clear look into the mindset of regulators: This single rule, with its astronomical salary threshold, is onerous enough to rob some small firms of any profit at all. If you are unable to profit, there is little point in starting – or staying in – a business.
The final headwind of note is one without a clear source of blame: Our culture. Millennials have grown up in a culture that is increasingly risk-averse. We see it in everything from helicopter parenting to the extremely cautious savings-and-investment behavior that has followed the financial crisis.
The millennial generation dreams big, sure. They have an easy time imagining themselves as the next tech mogul because so many tech ventures are low-risk. Mark Zuckerburg didn’t need good credit, equity in his home or a business loan to start Facebook. He just needed a laptop … something his parents had already bought for him.
But who will be willing to take the risk needed to start a small manufacturing facility? A restaurant? A construction business? Who is dreaming of the kind of small business that requires the less exciting, traditional combination of collateral and skill, vision and guts? The kind that creates so many, necessary jobs?
For entrepreneurship to bloom, we need the millennial generation to be even more bold than their entrepreneurial forebears. They must embrace productive risk, move out of the basement, pay off their student loans on an aggressive schedule, and change their government to one that understands and appreciates the fact that job creation requires an environment favorable to small, new businesses.
It’s a tall order, but this generation will also have terrific health and longevity on their side, not to mention the gifts of technology and a tolerant society that does not judge them on anything other than their merits.
If they are to become entrepreneurs and reverse the dangerous trend line of shrinking business dynamism in America, millennials will have to leverage their considerable gifts to break through daunting economic and situational barriers. If they can do it – and I hope and believe they can – they will save the American economy and change the world.
Hector Barreto, served as Small Business Administration Administrator under President George W. Bush. He is the author of "The Engine of America," which provides motivation and inspiration through the stories and ideas of business leaders across the nation.
Source: Fox News
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