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.

Jun 10, 2016

Latinos Increasingly Confident in Personal Finances, See Better Economic Times Ahead

Yet many economic indicators show few gains for the community since the Great Recession

Latinos have become considerably more upbeat about their personal finances and optimistic about their financial future since the Great Recession, according to new released results from a national survey of Latino adults.  The survey also shows that Latinos have pulled even with the general US population in their views of their personal finances and continue to outpace them on optimism about the future.  However, community economic indicators show limited progress since the Great Recession.

Four-in-ten Latinos say their personal finances are in “excellent” or “good” shape, a 17 percentage point increase since 2008, when only 23% made a similarly positive assessment of their finances (the Great Recession began in December 2007). 1 By contrast, the share of all Americans who have a similarly positive view of their finances remained essentially flat during the same seven-year period (41% in 2008 vs. 43% in 2015).

The survey also shows that Hispanics are more upbeat in their financial expectations for the upcoming year than they were in 2008. About eight-in-ten Hispanic adults (81%) say they expect their family’s financial situation to improve in the next year, up from 67% who said the same in 2008. By comparison, the U.S. public is not as upbeat – 61% say they expect their family’s financial situation to improve, up from 56% who said this in 2008.

Latino adults also see upward mobility in their children’s futures. Fully 72% say they expect their children will be better off financially than they themselves are now. 2

These findings emerge from the 2015 National Survey of Latinos, a nationally representative bilingual telephone survey of 1,500 adults conducted on both landline and cellular telephones. It was fielded from Oct. 21 to Nov. 30, 2015, and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.3 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.

The nation’s Latino population is its largest minority group, numbering 55.3 million in 2014. They are also one of its fastest-growing groups – the U.S. Latino population grew 57% between 2000 and 2014. With this fast demographic growth has come a growing impact on the nation’s economy. Between 2009 and 2013, Latinos accounted for 43.4% of total jobs growth, with U.S.-born Latinos driving most of that job growth. And the group’s purchasing power is on the rise. According to the University of Georgia’s Selig Center for Economic Growth, the purchasing power of the U.S. Latino community was $1.3 trillion in 2014, a gain of 155% since 2000 and higher than that of blacks ($1.1 trillion) and Asians ($770 billion).

Despite growing confidence and a larger economic footprint, federal government data shows a mixed economic picture for the Hispanic community recently. For example, the group’s unemployment rate has improved since the Great Recession (just as it has for all Americans), falling from a high of 12.8% in the first quarter of 2010 to 6.4% in the last quarter of 2015 (and 5.6% in the first quarter of 2016). 3 Still, it remains above its low of 5% in the fourth quarter of 2006 and is higher than that for non-Hispanic workers in the fourth quarter of 2015.

At the same time, median household income for Hispanics has stagnated since the Great Recession—in 2014 it was $42,491, a level essentially unchanged since the Great Recession (income is also little changed among the U.S. public), according to the latest Census Bureau data. In addition, the same Census Bureau report shows that the Hispanic poverty rate – 23.6% in 2014 – is less than a peak of 26.5% in 2010 but remains above pre-recession levels (as it does for all Americans). On wealth, Hispanic households had the largest percentage decline in their net worth through 2009 of any major racial or ethnic group. Unlike white households, however, their net worth continued to fall after the recession.

Nonetheless, Hispanics remain upbeat about national economic conditions. According to a December 2015 Pew Research Center survey of U.S. adults, 35% of Hispanics said economic conditions today are good or excellent, a higher share than among whites (25%). And the same survey shows that one-third of Hispanics (34%) say U.S. economic conditions will be better in the coming year, a share about twice as high as seen among other groups of Americans.

Economic issues have long been among the top issues identified by Hispanics when asked about those that are more important to them personally. For example, in 2014, the issues of education and the economy and jobs were rated more important than health care and immigration among registered voters. And on such issues as the minimum wage, Hispanics are more likely than the general U.S. public to support an increase – 84% versus 73%, according to the Pew Research Center’s December 2015 survey.

Among the report’s other findings:
  • In 2015, Latinos with some college experience or more (56%) and U.S.-born Latinos (50%) were most likely to say their personal financial situation is either excellent or good.
  • The lowest personal financial ratings in 2015 were among Latinos with less than a high school education and immigrant Latinos – 23% and 31%, respectively, say their personal finances are “excellent” or “good.”
  • Even though 59% of Hispanics ages 65 and older say they expect their family finances to improve in the next year, this is the lowest share among major Hispanic demographic subgroups.
  • Hispanics who say their personal finances in 2015 were “excellent” or “good” are more likely to say they expect an improvement in the next year compared with other Hispanics. Some 45% of those whose personal finances in 2015 were “excellent” expect their family’s finances to improve “a lot,” as do 30% of those who characterized their personal finances in 2015 as “good.”

Mar 30, 2016

Social Media use shifting among youth

Youth Now Say They’re More Likely to Use Snapchat Than Facebook or Instagram
by MarketingCharts staff 

Almost 8 in 10 Americans aged 12 and older currently use some form of social media, according to the latest annual Infinite Dial report [pdf] from Edison Research and Triton Digital. While Facebook maintains the broadest awareness among respondents (93%), awareness of Snapchat has grown quickly from last year (71%, from 60%), and now takes the top spot in reach among respondents aged 12-24.

Indeed, some 72% of respondents aged 12-24 said they currently use Snapchat, up from 57% last year. In the process, Snapchat has surpassed Instagram usage, which itself has grown from 59% to 66% among this demographic.

Interestingly, Facebook use continues to recede among youth, falling to 68% from 74% last year and 80% the year prior. (Cue the renewed media frenzy over Facebook use among teens…) But it remains the most frequently used platform among 12-24-year-old social media users, as:
  • 32% said they use it most often, down from 43% last year; while
  • 26% use Snapchat most often, up from 15% last year; and
  • 17% use Instagram most often, relatively flat from 18% last year.

The results bring to mind research released late last year from Forrester. That study found that while Facebook wasn’t perceived to be as “cool” as Snapchat or Instagram among 12-17-year-old users, it was the most heavily used platform.

In another study, from Piper Jaffray, Instagram remained as the “most important” social network to teens, with Snapchat rising quickly to top Facebook and rival Twitter.

Meanwhile, it’s a very different story when taking into account the rest of the Infinite Dial survey sample (not just youth). Among all respondents aged 12 and older, Facebook easily leads in reach, currently used by 64% of respondents, up slightly from last year’s 62%. Instagram follows (29%, up from 24%), ahead of Pinterest (25%, up from 21%) and Snapchat (23%, up from 17%), with each of these apparently currently used by more Americans than Twitter (21%, up from 18%) and LinkedIn (20%, up from 18%).

Facebook again leads in frequency of usage, also, with 35% of respondents saying they use it “several times per day.” Snapchat (12%) and Instagram (12%) are the next-most heavily used platforms among the entire 12+ sample, followed by Twitter (7%).

In comparing the social media platforms used most often by men and women, the study finds that:
  • Women (67%) are more likely than men (57%) to say they use Facebook most often;
  • Women (7%) are also more likely than men (1%) to cite Pinterest as their most-oft used platform; while
  • Men (8%) are more likely than women (1%) to say they use LinkedIn most often; and
  • Men (7%) are also more likely than women (2%) to tab Twitter as their most-used platform.

In other results from the study:
  • 1 in 4 respondents (12+) reported listening to Pandora during the previous week, led by the 12-24 (33%) and 25-54 (32%) age groups;
  • Some 29% of 12-24-year-olds say it is “very important” to keep up-to-date with music, compared to 17% of Americans aged 12 and older;
  • Friends and family (68%), AM/FM radio (68%) and YouTube (66%) are the primary sources used to keep up-to-date with music by those who say that it is very or somewhat important to do so; and
  • Among 12-24-year-olds who feel it is very or somewhat important to keep up to date with music, YouTube (86%) is the most commonly used source for doing so, ahead of friends and family (74%) and AM/FM radio (58%).

About the Data: The results are based on a national telephone survey conducted in January and February 2016 of 2,001 people aged 12 and older. Interviews were 52% land line and 48% cell phone, and the survey was offered in both English and Spanish.

Nov 12, 2015

Covered California comes to La Familia Counseling Center

Spotlight campaign pushes to get an additional 750,000 to enroll.

L to R: Gloria Torres, Rachel Rios, Peter Lee, Assemb. Kevin McCarty
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — On its last leg of a 38-stop tour, the Covered California’s bus with Executive Director Peter V. Lee held a small rally at La Familia Counseling Center on Thursday, promoting enrollment.  La Familia is one of several key locations in Sacramento where individuals can enroll before the January 31, 2016 deadline.  But, the main purpose of the tour is to get individuals enrolled before December 15 to ensure coverage beginning January 1.

Covered California is spotlighting enrollment because an estimated 2.2 million uninsured Californians remain eligible to get help to make their insurance affordable by enrolling in either Covered California or Medi-Cal. An estimated 750,000 uninsured Californians could enroll through Covered California.

“We have made 38 stops and travelled 2,000 miles since the tour began,” Lee told a crowd that had
gathered in front of La Familia.  “We have heard from those who received coverage like Maria in Redding, not her real name, who because of the coverage she received, was able to get proper medical care for uterine cancer.”

Lee stated that the national rate of the uninsured has dropped below 10 percent and California’s uninsured rate is even lower, at 8.6 percent.

“Covered California helps families and individuals receive free or low-cost health insurance,” said La Familia Counseling Center’s Executive Director Rachel Rios.  “We offer enrollment services as part of the many services offered here at La Familia.

“Our message of putting the spotlight on coverage has spread all over the state with the help of hospitals, counties, community clinics, agent storefronts and our Navigators,” added Lee. “These partners are on the front lines each day and see the true impact having affordable health care coverage means in their communities.”

In the weeks ahead, Covered California will continue to spotlight the fact that open enrollment continues through Jan. 31, but the exchange is encouraging consumers to sign up before Dec. 15 to ensure they have coverage beginning Jan. 1.

“We can’t stress enough that the sooner consumers sign up, the sooner they have access to world-class facilities; high-quality doctors; and real, affordable health care coverage. Enrolling by Dec. 15 guarantees them the peace of mind of knowing they and their family won’t face financial strain should something unforeseen happen,” said Lee.

For additional information or to sign up, you can go to La Familia website at www.lafcc.org or to www.coveredca.com. - SACLATINO 

Oct 28, 2015

White House honors Fresno State Latino program October 7th, 2015

Program recruits Latino teachers, helps migrant students 
eCampus News, Fresno State
Fresno State’s Mini-Corps Program, which recruits Latino teachers and helps migrant students, is one of five programs at four California State University campuses recognized by the White House for narrowing the Latino achievement gap.

The White House released the “Bright Spots in Hispanic Education,” Sept. 15 and the CSU announced the honor in its system-wide newsletter “CSU Leader” Thursday.

The report is an online national catalog that features more than 230 programs and organizations supporting Latinos in education, including the five CSU programs.

“This recognition highlights the CSU’s commitment to providing college opportunity to a diverse California,” said Fresno State President Joseph I. Castro.

Currently, students of color make up more than half of the CSU’s 460,000 students, with Latino enrollment comprising 34.8 percent. Fresno State’s Latino enrollment is 43 percent.

The announcement comes as Fresno State participates in the nationwide observance of Hispanic Heritage Month. More than 20 events are now underway through Oct. 30.

Throughout the month, the White House will continue to highlight the progress Latinos are making in education as it marks 25 years of the Educational Excellence for Hispanics Initiative.

Fresno State’s Mini-Corps program, which is part of the statewide California Mini-Corps Program founded in 1967 with the State Department’s Migrant Education Program, focuses on recruiting Latino teachers as well as assisting classroom teachers in providing instructional services to migrant children who have a priority for services.

The local program began in 1975 and has served more than 40,000 migrant students and helped train over 1,200 teachers, said coordinator Lilly Lomeli.

Fresno State’s Mini-Corps now serves 35 K-12 school sites in Fresno County and in the past year, the program’s tutors collaborated with 165 teachers providing direct instruction services to 676 students, Lomeli said.

“We value the long tradition and partnership Fresno State enjoys with Mini Corps and the thousands of teachers and students served through that program,” said Pres. Castro. “These professionals have marched out into the community to help teach and nurture many young migrant students who in turn strive to create a better life for their families through education.”

Dr. Paul Beare, dean of the Kremen School of Education and Human Development that houses Mini Corps, said the school is “ incredibly proud” of the Mini Corps faculty and students.

“They make a real difference in our community,” Beare said. “We have Mini Corps alumni on our faculty and others who are leaders in our community. Another program that makes Fresno and Central California a better place to live.”

The CSU also has a systemwide Latino Initiative, which aims to improve preparation, college access and graduation rates for Latino students. Through the initiative, the CSU hosts Feria de Educación events that annually educate tens of thousands of Spanish-speaking parents and youth about steps to prepare for college and provide exposure to career options. This year the feria will be held at Fresno State Oct.24.

The other CSU programs recognized as “Bright Spots in Hispanic Education” are:

• Cal State L.A.: MORE (Minority Opportunities in Research)
• Cal State L.A.: LSAMP (Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation)
• CSU San Bernardino: Latino Education & Advocacy Days (LEAD)
• CSU Northridge: AIMS2

Material from a press release was used in this report.

Sep 29, 2015

California Strawberry Commission elects first Latina as Chair

Lorena Chavez, New Chair for Commission

A Santa Maria native, Lorena Chavez is Controller and CFO for their family-operated business and operates her own farm.

WATSONVILLE, CA – In what is believed to be a first for an agricultural commodity group in California, the California Strawberry Commission announced it has elected a Latina farmer to serve as chair of the commission’s board. A second-generation Mexican-American strawberry farmer from Santa Maria, Lorena Chavez, 50, was unanimously elected to lead the commission for the next year along with Vice Chairman Tom AmRhein from Watsonville and Secretary/Treasurer Hector Gutierrez from Ventura County.

A graduate of Santa Barbara Business College, Ms. Chavez has previously served as the commission’s vice chairman and secretary/treasurer, and as chair of the advisory committee for the California strawberry scholarship program, which has awarded more than $2 million to the children of strawberry field workers.

“Lorena Chavez embodies everything positive that strawberries represent to California,” said Rick Tomlinson, president of the commission. “Her family’s personal story is a prime example of how immigrants have found opportunity and a path to achieving the American Dream through hard work in California’s strawberry fields.”

Ms. Chavez is Controller and CFO of L&G Farming, Inc., a family-operated business, working alongside her father and brothers. She and her brother Daniel also operate their own farm in Santa Maria, where they grow strawberries on 500 acres. She is active in the Santa Maria community, sitting on the boards of the local YMCA and other organizations, including the 37th District Fair Park Board, and has volunteered for St. Mary’s Finance Council and Santa Maria Girls Softball.

“I am profoundly honored and humbled to be chosen to help lead the commission in serving the needs of California’s 400 diverse family farmers and their workers,” Ms. Chavez said. “Given my family history, I am passionate about preserving the viability of strawberry farming in our state and am committed to ensuring the health, welfare and future of our workers and their families.”

According to Ms. Chavez, her father left his home in Jalisco, Mexico, in search of a better life. He arrived in California as part of the Bracero Program - an agreement made between the United States and Mexico to bring Mexican citizens to the U.S. to address the need for farm labor during World War II. Through years of hard work and dedication, he came to own his own 300 acre farm, which employs several hundred people in the Santa Maria area.

“I’ll never forget where my family comes from,” said Ms. Chavez, whose priorities as the new chair will be to focus on promoting policies and programs that support California strawberry farmers and their workers.

An estimated 65% of all California strawberry farmers are of Mexican-American descent. Another 20% are of Japanese and Asian descent with the latest group of farmers coming from Laos. Nearly a quarter of Latino strawberry farmers in California started out as field workers.

“Strawberries are a unique asset in California that must be cherished and protected – not just so our farmers and 70,000 jobs can compete in the global marketplace,” she said. “We also need to ensure our workers have the best possible training, work environment and the same opportunities for upward mobility strawberries afforded my father.”

The California Strawberry Commission is a state government agency located in Northern California state government agency charged with conducting research to support California’s strawberry industry. With an emphasis on sustainable farming practices, the commission works with strategic partners focusing on production and nutrition research, food safety training and education, marketing and communications, trade relations and public policy.