Good Intentions, But Questions Linger
“We like the intention of the package,” the NCLR’s Singley says. “Where we have questions is if it’s going to move the needle on Hispanic unemployment.”
Some stimulus programs aimed at increasing employment, she says, aren’t targeted enough to reach workers who have trouble speaking English. And the billions of dollars that will be going to construction projects may bypass Hispanic firms that have little experience in government contracting.
“We’re afraid the money is going out so quickly among traditional channels to the usual suspects that Latinos will be locked out,” Singley explains.
Ferreira says the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce shares that concern. “Unfortunately, there’s a lot of good ol’ boy mentality in contracting,” he says.
A Light at the End of the Tunnel?
Many recession-wracked Latinos are hopeful—albeit wary—of the stimulus bill’s real impact.
“Something had to be done,” says Augusto J. Gil, 43, who owns a real estate development firm in Miami with his father, Augusto Gil, 74. In business since 1968, the Gils, who emigrated from Cuba about 40 years ago, have seen their company thrive. But in the past year, the recession has cost the firm millions of dollars.
The younger Gil has mixed feelings about Obama’s stimulus plan. He worries it will cost taxpayers money in the long run but believes his subcontractors will benefit from the bill’s funding for new construction work. He also hopes an increase in construction in Miami will generate demand for the homes and offices his company builds. Still, he says, “right now there’s no light at the end of the tunnel.”
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