February 5, 1999

SBA Director Alvarez Announces New Outreach To Hispanic Businessmen

By Daniel Muñoz

With the flourish of her pen, Administrator Aida Alvarez of the Small Business Administration signed a Partnership Agreement with 33 National Hispanic organizations at the White House.

"With these agreements today, Hispanic entrepreneurs have a seat at America's economic table" she said.

"The Hispanic community's economic empowerment movement starts here and now," said Massey Villarreal, chair of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of commerce.

Errol J. Chavez, Special Agent in Charge of the San Diego Field Division, U.S. Drug Enforcement.

"The partnership agreement states that SBA and each participant will combine their efforts to reach out to Hispanics who may benefit from SBA services and to help more small firms succeed. The national partnership agreement will help forge stronger relationships between SBA district offices, local chambers, and other SBA resource partners as well as the participating organization local chapters," added Administrator Alvarez.

Out of the 33 Hispanic groups listed five were located in Los Angeles, two in San Juan Capistrano, and one in San Diego. The organizations signing the agreement from California include: The Mexican American Legal Defense & Educational Fund (2 groups), National Association of Elected Officials, Society of Professional Engineers & The Willie Velasquez Institute of Los Angeles. In San Juan Capistrano the National Builders Inc, signed the agreement twice. In San Diego, The Hispanic American Police Officers Association was the only group invited to become a signatory of the Agreement.

La Prensa San Diego contacted Mr. Errol Chavez who was listed as the President of the Hispanic American Police Officers Association HAPOA. He is the Special Agent in charge of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in San Diego.

L/P - Mr. Chavez, Why and how were you selected to join in this Agreement and identify for our readers just what or who HAPOA is.

Chavez - I am the National president of the Association. Our national headquarters is in Washington D.C. The local chapter (in San Diego) is basically out of Los Angeles. I am in the process of creating a chapter in San Diego. The national group is over 30 years old. But the chapter here will be a new one. HAPOA was founded in 1973 in California. Its name at that time was the Mexican American Police Command Officers Association. In 1984 the name was changed to its present name in order to reflect the representation of Hispanic command officers in the entire country. HAPOA assists law enforcement agencies in addressing their need to improve community relations through training and education and it also creates a forum in which all officers of all ranks can improve their careers. Currently there are 600 members in the organization. One objective of HAPOA is to fulfill the growing need of criminal justice agencies for qualified Hispanic Americans at all levels.

L/P - What role does the group play in this "Partnership Agreement?

Chavez - We will not be dealing with any type of financial program. We will not be asking for any support or money. We provide support to the Hispanic community. As law enforcement professionals we deal with the public, the Hispanic community… What we are trying to do is facilitate and support this movement (by Alvarez and the government).

L/P - They are not really putting any `bucks' behind this agreement are they?

Chavez - You have to talk to SBA about that. One of our goals is to achieve a greater cooperation between the community and the criminal justice system. We can achieve this by cooperating with SBA with some of their programs such as the Partnership Agreement.

L/P - The press statement from the director Alvarez stated: "With these agreements today, Hispanic entrepreneurs, have a seat at America's economic table" can you clarify just how this is going to come about when there is no money involved?

Chavez - SBA has their monies and outreach to the minority communities that is completely different from what we in HAPOA will be doing. We will be offering guidance, training, recognition, and providing information to them (SBA) so they can come in with a program. We will not be facilitating any money whatsoever.

L/P - Then you are not going to be involved in qualifying or recommendation entrepreneurs for business loans?

Chavez - No.

According to SBA, the number of Hispanics owning businesses has skyrocketed by 230 percent from 1987-1997 to an estimated 1.4 million businesses. These businesses generate revenues of $184 billion annually.

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