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MISSION, RGV – Javier Palomarez, President and CEO of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, says that Latinos are increasingly becoming the face of entrepreneurship in America. Palomarez spoke at The Greater Mission Chamber of Commerce “Buenas Tardes” luncheon on Thursday, where he gave statistics about the economic contributions of Hispanics in the country.

According to different studies released in 2016 and 2017, Hispanic-owned businesses number about 4.2 million and contribute about $668 billion to the U.S. economy. Of the nation’s 18.57 trillion GDP, they were responsible for 2.13 trillion – a contribution larger than the GDPs of Canada, Italy, Russia and Australia.

Hispanic-owned businesses are also growing at twice the national average. And, when you look at Latinas separately, their businesses are growing closer to four times the national average.

“If Hispanic businesses were a spear, the very, very tip of that spear – the most dangerous part – are Latinas. They’re the ones driving the American economy,” said Palomarez.

Palomarez emphasized that these men and women are leading small business growth, which accounts for two-thirds of all new American jobs.

“It’s a really exciting time to be an entrepreneur in America, and specifically, a woman or a Hispanic entrepreneur.”

Palomarez also spoke about the importance of NAFTA for small businesses. According to the International Trade Administration, small and medium-sized companies made up 98 percent of U.S. exporters. Palomarez added that Mexico is the nation’s third-largest trading partner and ranks in the top three export markets for 31 states.

In Texas, 40 percent of all exports go to Mexico – about $93 billion worth of goods. The trade market between the two supports 1 million jobs in the state. But, Palomarez says that doesn’t mean NAFTA shouldn’t be updated or renegotiated.

“We do not, now or ever, want to turn a blind eye or a deaf ear to the very real concerns and the challenges that accompany our relationship with Mexico,” said Palomarez. “Addressing the trading deficit with Mexico, addressing border security with Mexico, addressing immigration and a host of other topics – from labor standards to [the] environment – is imperative.”

Palomarez says the USHCC hopes the North American Free Trade Agreement can become the North American “Fair” Trade Agreement. With investments in the billions on both sides, cooperation in the coming years will be key.

Palomarez is a RGV native, born and raised in Edinburg, and a graduate of UTPA.

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