Members of the White House’s newly created Hispanic Prosperity Initiative Committee met in Las Vegas on Wednesday to discuss ways in which the federal government can enrich business and education opportunities for the country’s 60 million Hispanic and Latino Americans.
The committee, chaired by Republican former New Mexico Lt. Gov. John Sanchez, met with local businesses and parents Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning before convening at the International Church of Las Vegas’ Prayer Mountain offices. It is tasked with reporting findings and recommendations to the U.S. Departments of Education, Labor, Commerce and Housing and Urban Development, as well as the Small Business Administration.
“(The committee) is nothing more than a continuation of what the president has done for the last almost 3½ years in empowering the Hispanic community with an economy that set records,” Sanchez said. “Unemployment rates among Hispanics was at record lows prior to COVID-19, and the wage growth and homeownership were at record highs.”
Among the primary topics under discussion were ways in which Hispanic businesses could secure government contracts or move into the personal protective equipment manufacturing market.
Mario Rodriguez, committee member and CEO of nonprofit Hispanic 100, said it was important for the government to help foster growth and access to capital for Hispanic businesses.
White House liaisons on the committee also noted President Donald Trump plans to send nearly $13 billion in aid to Puerto Rico, which they said will go toward rebuilding the territory’s electrical grid and schools in order to support pharmaceutical manufacture.
School choice, a key Republican talking point heading into the election, was also discussed at length. The committee reported that some Hispanic parents would like to use the public funding for their children’s education to move them into school options through things like education savings accounts and opportunity scholarships.
The committee discussed whether tax credits could be doled out on the federal level, since many states, including Nevada, limit these types of programs because of the impacts on public education.
Bob Unanue, committee member and president of Goya Foods, Inc., noted that one of his six children is dyslexic and said many parents of children with individualized education programs would like the option of choosing a specific school or program.
Lourdes Aguirre, committee member and CEO of Hispanic media company Eres America, said quality education is essential to the economic growth of the Hispanic community.
“To the Hispanic community, the most important agenda in the family is for your children to be educated,” she said. “It doesn’t matter if Dad is a carpenter, (parents) want you to be an engineer.”
Wednesday’s gathering was the second for the committee, which plans to continue traveling and meeting in states with large Hispanic populations.