News Column

Corner Office: Forging Ahead

May Issue

Jesús Chavarría--Editor & Publisher, Hispanic Business Magazine

Jesús Chavarría, Corner Office, Hispanic Business, top nonprofits

Amid persisting news about an uncertain economy, it is inspiring that nonprofit organizations continue to forge ahead in the face of multifaceted challenges.

Indeed, in the 10 years this story has appeared in these pages, finally Hispanic nonprofits report what could turn out to be an institutional milestone. With the help of community human resources, they have made a breakthrough of sorts in their efforts to catch the attention of large California foundations.

In this issue, HispanicBusiness Magazine presents its list of the Top 25 Hispanic-operated nonprofits. Even with the challenges of the recession, these organizations added $100 million to their consolidated expenditures year over year. Their total spending increased from $702 million in 2007 to $802 million in 2008. In this economy, that's a pretty remarkable accomplishment as the Top 25 Hispanic Nonprofits move closer to the $1 billion annual expenditure threshold.

Hispanic nonprofit organizations have assumed a higher profile in the mainstream in recent months. In California, a minority-focused legislative initiative that in the end achieved a compromise with the state's largest foundations resulted in a controversial public debate between minority-run nonprofits and the state's biggest foundations.

Since HispanicBusiness first launched its annual ranking of nonprofits in 2000, the issue of the lack of foundation financial support of minority nonprofits has inevitably been an important part of the Hispanic nonprofit story.

"There are a lot of opportunities to do some creative things," says Castulo de la Rocha, CEO of AltaMed Health Services Corp., this year's No. 1 nonprofit group.

California Assemblyman Joe Coto (D-San Jose) last year introduced AB 624, a measure that would have, among other things, required foundations with assets of $250 million or more to divulge the racial makeup of the charities they give to. He teamed with the Greenlining Institute, a multi-ethnic advocacy, research and public policy organization.

In the end, all the parties reached a $30 million agreement, but Hispanic nonprofit groups will likely continue to seek greater foundation funding in the years to come.

Meanwhile, the second half of 2009 might finally bring good news for many of the country's Hispanic-owned small businesses, as the first wave of stimulus dollars begins to filter down.

We should start to see over the next 30 to 45 days the impact of stimulus spending on local economies and regions.

Our cover story, "The New Economy" by Rob Kuznia, offers a detailed explanation of some major infrastructure projects in the pipeline.

Companies in big U.S. Hispanic markets are vying for a piece of the total, $27.5 billion set aside to benefit construction companies working on highways and bridges. Billions more will go to energy efficiency, mass transit and affordable housing construction projects.

There are signs the intent of the Recovery and Reinvestment Act is beginning to zero in on markets. The White House says $43 billion of the new stimulus package will be directed at renewable energy, plus an additional $22 billion in tax relief. Government agencies will receive initially monies from the stimulus package, but 90 percent of expected new jobs will come from the private sector.

Susana Navarro-Valenti, founder of Navarro Research & Engineering Inc., in Oak Ridge, Tenn., says the firm already has more than 50 contracts from the federal government, which will pump her work force of 350 upward still.

As we navigate the murky waters of the recession, there are no clear paths to the shore, but there are increasing signs of hope. Our federal government shows signs of promise, but small businesses are still waiting for access to credit to open up and consumer confidence to be restored. The road to recovery may be a slow and steady one.

Source: (c) 2009. All rights reserved.

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