Aug 4, 2017

The August 3, 2017 Issue of the Weekly Focus Newsletter

Jul 1, 2017

Sacramento Latino Community Roundtable continues to grow


The Sacramento Latino Community Roundtable continues to grow in size and influence
Sacramento Latino Roundtable meeting hosted by SMUD
     Sacramento’s Latino community became fragmented after the passing of Mayor Joe Serna in 1999. Serna was not just a civil rights activist, City Council Member and Mayor, but had been the glue that held the Sacramento Latino community together. Although several Latino community meetings were held to regain the coalitions that Serna had created, none resulted in a sustained effort. Instead, it took a scathing editorial published in the Sacramento Bee that asked, “Where have all the Latinos gone?” in response to the poor Latino voter turnout of the November 2014 election. The article, written by Mariel Garza, a Latina, prompted a number of us to make calls and push for a general meeting where we could begin to plan the future of Sacramento’s Latino community.

     The first meeting, albeit a bit contentious, was held in January of 2015, with over 60 attendees representing themselves and varied nonprofits, and yours truly acting as moderator. It was not easy, after a couple of hours we all agreed on two resolutions: 1) To meet on a monthly basis; and, 2) To work on Eric Guerra’s campaign for City Council.

     At its second meeting, the group named itself the Sacramento Latino Community Roundtable (SLCR), a body not owned or governed by any person, group, or entity, with a focus to better the lives of Latinos in the region. Since then, the SLCR has met monthly, helped get Eric Guerra elected, and has collectively written letters to City Hall to ensure inclusion of Latinos in city government and its activities.

     Because of the many leaders and organizations involved, the group also decided early on that the SLCR would be structured as an unincorporated association, governed by guidelines rather than bylaws or Robert’s Rules of Order. With a simple agenda, a two-hour meeting time limit, no membership fees, open to anyone and rotating monthly hosts, the SLCR has attracted the attention of business, political, elected and appointed individuals. Moreover, it has established itself as a key group to engage for public policy development.

     Now in its third year, it’s been my honor to moderate most of these meetings together with past President of the League of Women Voters Lola Acosta. With a fluctuating number of attendees, from 40 to over 90, there is no question that the information shared at these meetings is invaluable, and the resources discovered continue to help the improvement of our Sacramento Latino community in the areas of education, economic development, and political empowerment. Si Se Puede!

- Adrian Perez, Publisher/Editor

Jul 25, 2016

Franklin Blvd searches for new Executive Director

Long time ED of the Franklin Boulevard Partnership moving on to new challenges.
Marti Brown
SACRAMENTO, CA (July 25, 2016) – Located along Franklin Boulevard in South Sacramento, The Franklin Boulevard Business Association (‘Association’) and, its sister organization, the Franklin Neighborhood Development Corporation (‘Corporation’) announced today that they are actively seeking a new Executive Director.  

After nearly four years, Marti Brown recently resigned from her post to accept a position in Southern California as the new Community Development Director of the City of Arvin.  

“We’re sad to see Marti leave the business district. But we will continue to build on the strong urban planning and community and economic development framework that the Association initiated more than three years ago with Dr. Jesus Hernandez and the Executive Director. Marti’s leaving the Association, but that doesn’t mean that our work is done! We’re going to stay the same course that we started,” Commented Mike Bokan, Association and Corporation Board President and owner of Bokan Bros.

In the spring of 2013, the Association launched an ambitious initiative to research and prepare its own Strategic Plan (‘Plan’) with Dr. Jesus Hernandez, a Sociologist from UC Davis. More than three years later, the Plan is nearly complete and outlines a series of bold strategies to revitalize the business district and bring it into the 21st Century including a new streetscape, new park, neighborhood shuttle, energy audits and retrofits of both commercial and residential buildings, increasing access to health care, ‘green’ cradle to career pathways, and affordable housing, just to name a few.  

When hearing the news of Ms. Brown’s resignation, Jorge Plasencia, Association and Corporation Vice-President and La Esperanza Bakery and Deli owner, had this to say: “It’s unfortunate that we’re losing Marti at this critical time when we’ve made so much progress in the past couple of years. Still, I’m excited about the Association’s direction and I’m confident that with the right Executive Director we will keep the momentum going to implement the District’s forthcoming Strategic Plan.”  

The Strategic Plan is due later this fall. Dr. Hernandez and Marti Brown will continue to work together remotely to complete it in a timely manner. In addition, Marti will continue to consult to and on behalf of the Association while working with the City of Sacramento on Franklin Boulevard’s new streetscape project to be launched later this year.  

“I have really enjoyed working with the Board of Directors. I’m especially proud of their leadership on this forward thinking Plan for the business district. I’m also pleased that I will continue to be involved in completing the Strategic Plan and consulting on the new streetscape. There are many exciting projects underway in the business district. The new Executive Director will have a tremendous opportunity to expand on the powerful community and economic development work the Board of Directors and Dr. Hernandez have already initiated,” commented Marti Brown, outgoing Executive Director.  

A copy of the job announcement and description is available here. 

Application deadline is Saturday, August 13.  

Jun 15, 2016

Will millenials ever have the means or guts to become entrepreneurs?

College graduates have an average student loan debt of over $37,000, the highest ever.
By Hector Barreto

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?

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.