Op-EdAppeared in Atlanta Business Chronicle on October 7, 2014By Alfredo Ortiz

Viewpoint: Hispanic-owned businesses will lead America’s economic recovery

Alfredo Ortiz is the president of Job Creators Network, an Atlanta-based national business advocacy organization founded by Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus.

America is stuck in neutral, with stagnant unemployment, slow economic growth, and out of control government spending. But as Hispanic Heritage Month comes to a close, it is important to note that Hispanic-owned businesses are poised to lead America’s long awaited economic recovery.

Gallup Organization data proves first-generation migrants are more likely to start a business, take business-related risks, feel optimistic even when things go wrong, and exhibit more of a “never give up” attitude. Hispanics most of all – they start businesses at twice the rate of the average American.

According to Geoscape International, there are 3.2-million Hispanic-owned businesses in the U.S., an increase of 43 percent since 2007 and two times more than 2002. Hispanic-owned businesses account for over 128,000 employees and have increased their payrolls by 12.1 percent since 2006. Most employ five people or less, small businesses that play important role in the national economy.

Hispanics are more likely to be self-employed when compared to the general U.S. population. Revenue at Hispanic companies beat the average, too, when it jumped by almost a third to a projected $468 billion from 2007 to 2013.

With this robust growth through a recession, it is no wonder Hispanic business owners are influencing economic recovery. And successful corporate chief executives lead the way, creating jobs and opportunity, like Mexican-American Chris MacFarland, CEO of Masergy Inc. and Cuban-American David Hernandez, founder and CEO of Liberty Power Corp.

MacFarland burst on the technology scene at a young age and led operations at fast-growing global companies when most other American 20-somethings were in entry-level jobs. Now 42 and chief executive of Masergy since 2010, he drove cumulative revenues beyond $1 billion, sustains 20 percent annual growth and built the nation’s largest independent enterprise cloud networking company.

David Hernandez is CEO of Liberty Power, the largest independent retail electricity supplier in the United States. Since he co-founded the company 2001, it has grown into one of the ten largest Hispanic-owned companies in the country. Today, Hernandez’s company serves nearly 200,000 business and residential accounts across the nation.

Both men are from modest backgrounds – MacFarland comes from humble Texas roots; Hernandez and his family emigrated from Cuba. Like many Hispanic business owners, they have boundless enthusiasm for entrepreneurship and excel in highly competitive marketplaces. They are both also leaders of Job Creators Network because they share a profound vision for the future of Free Enterprise and a singular focus on leading the way.

And America needs Hispanic business owners in the lead. Since 2008, Hispanic family income has dropped by $2,500 and 2.5 million more Latinos have fallen into poverty. As a result of government policies like the Affordable Care Act, Hispanics are being pushed into part time work and suffer higher unemployment (20 percent) than the national average, according to the LIBRE Initiative.

Still, Hispanics are optimistic about their future: while most Americans remain gloomy, three out of four Hispanics believe their children will achieve more than they did. If you ask a Hispanic CEO, most are bullish on their business. And that’s a good sign, since their companies have become a reliable measure of broader economic growth.

There is little doubt Hispanic-owned businesses will be a major factor in our economic recovery. That’s because the owners still believe in the American dream – and they are stepping into economic leadership to prove it.