In conjunction with National Small Business Week, Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew today toured M. Luis Construction’s asphalt manufacturing facility to highlight the critical role immigrants and entrepreneurs play in making America’s economy the largest, strongest and most innovative in the world.
The Luis family story is the quintessential American story. Manuel and Albertina Luis and their two daughters, Cidalia and Natalia, immigrated to the United States in 1979 seeking opportunity and a better life. Six years later, they founded a road construction business with little more than a wheelbarrow and pickup truck. That business, now run by the Luis sisters, is still around -- growing, thriving and hiring additional workers. The company now employs over 200 people and generates $60 million in annual revenues. In 2012, the Maryland-based company utilized a $2.5 million loan guarantee from the Maryland Industrial Development Financing Authority to expand operations, diversify their business activities and hire additional workers. The guarantee was made possible by funds from Treasury’s State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI).
The Luis family story is not unique. As Secretary Lew noted in an interview with Univision following the tour, over one-in-four new businesses are created by immigrants just like them.
We are a nation of immigrants, we are a nation where entrepreneurship has come from people coming to our shores, having an opportunity and building a life for themselves, their families and their communities.
Secretary Lew also discussed why fixing our broken immigration system is vitally important:
“It’s a basic matter of fairness, but it’s also a basic matter of economic opportunity. If you’re in the shadows, you’re not part of the regular employment system. You can be taken advantage of and you have no rights…
“The combination of fairness and economic opportunity come together in immigration reform and it’s why I think you’re seeing so much bipartisan interest in getting it done.”
Congressman Chris Van Hollen, who has been a leader on small business issues in the U.S. House of Representatives and whose district includes the M. Luis Construction’s asphalt manufacturing plant had this to say:
“M. Luis Construction’s manufacturing facility is an embodiment of the hard work and risk taking we see every day from small business owners across the country. As we celebrate National Small Business Week, I join with Secretary Lew in encouraging all Americans to consider the role that entrepreneurs, no matter where they come from, play in moving our economy forward.”
As the economy continues to recover from the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, Treasury and the Obama Administration remain focused on actions that enable American small businesses like M. Luis Construction to grow, expand and hire. Measures to date include 18 small business tax cuts signed into law by President Obama, broadening small businesses’ access to capital and providing billions in small business loans. Treasury’s SSBCI and Small Business Lending Fund, both created by the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010, are continuing to unlock capital and encourage greater lending to small businesses across the country.
For more information about Treasury’s small business programs, please visit www.treasury.gov/smallbusiness.
For more information about the economic benefits of immigration reform, check out this White House fact sheet.
Anthony Coley is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs at the U.S. Department of the Treasury.