Link to Original Article from Asian Journal
NAAC 9TH ANNUAL ECONOMIC DEV’T CONFERENCE. Martin J. Gruenberg, (left) Chairman of the the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), gives the keynote address during the National Asian American Coalition’s (NAAC) 9th Annual Economic Development Conference last Oct. 15 in South San Francisco. The conference also included panel discussion on homeownership and small business opportunities.
SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO—It was an impressive gathering of Federal and local agencies, private businesses, homeowners and community leaders, with one mission in mind – to empower the public and open opportunities to those who have been hit by the nation’s economic recession.
The National Asian American Coalition’s (NAAC and formerly Mabuhay Alliance) 9th Annual Economic Development Conference last October 15 offered participants a platform to know and discuss important issues such as foreclosure and homeownership and information about starting small businesses. Held at the South San Francisco Convention Center, the event was full of valuable insight, information and opportunities to interact and talk to Federal and local officials; which included Keynote Speaker Martin J. Gruenberg, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) Acting Chairman; Commissioner Jan Lynn Owen of the California Department of Corporations; and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Small Business, Community Development and Housing Policy / Executive Director of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness Don Graves; to name a few.
NAAC CEO and President Faith Bautista, along with General Counsel Robert Gnaizda, welcomed guests and participants to the conference with much enthusiasm, starting with a brief meeting with the members of the minority media.
“NAAC is working with the members of the minority media to help them learn how to obtain contracts from corporate and political America,” said Bautista. “It is time to educate corporate America and show them the value of ethnic media. It’s up to us to prove to advertisers that we’re worth it.”
Gnaizda also pointed out the “huge untapped corporate funding” that the ethnic media should benefit from. With that in mind, NAAC will be spearheading efforts to find ways on helping the ethnic media get equal business/advertising opportunities, as well as quality coverage from corporate and political entities across America by 2014, just in time for the 2016 election. This effort will be headed by NAAC Board Chair, Cora Macabagdal Oriel, who is also the President of Asian Journal Publications.
Gruenberg gave the keynote address during luncheon, shedding more light into FDIC’s role in the nation. “The FDIC core mission has remained the same,” the Chairman said. “that is to give American families a secure place to put their savings and have confidence in the banking system.”
During his address, Gruenberg said that in a 2011 survey, 8.2% of US households have no checking accounts, while 20% have no savings account with an FDIC-insured financial institution. A significant number of families also have no access to bank accounts or are “unbanked.” The Chairman noted however, that Asian households in the U.S. have a higher level banking engagement, and have greater access to financial institutions.
With these, Gruenberg said that the FDIC are taking initiatives on the issue by breaking down barriers in opening accounts (bank fees, minimum balance requirements) and are looking into how to lower the threshold.
With their focus on sustainable homeownership, one of the panel sessions included Homeownership Now. Moderated by National Fair Housing Alliance Acting Associate Director of External Affairs Zixta Martinez, the session opened with a brief speech from Commissioner Owen.
“I am impressed with NAAC and the amount of people it brings to its events,” said Owen. “The Asian community plays a pivotal role in the economic landscape of California.” The commissioner also pointed out that the according to the 2011 U.S. Census, the Asian community homeownership rate is 58%,.
The panel speakers also included Leah Frazier, Attorney, FTC in the Bureau of Consumer Protection; Steven Gluckstern, Chairman of Mortgage Resolution Partners LLC; Amanda Lumb-Hillaire, Lending Manager for JPMorgan Chase; Lena Robinson, Regional Manager at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco; Michael Troncoso, Senior Counsel to California Attorney General Kamala Harris; and Marcia Griffin, President and Founder of HomeFree-USA.
Gluckstern took the opportunity to explain the current housing crisis creatively – by using a funnel. Stating that there are about 13 million families who already lost their homes, there are still a lot more who are above, in the middle and bottom of the funnel.
“It’s not (just) about the 4 million above it (the funnel), it’s the 3.5 million who are in the funnel – the ones who are in default of their mortgage payments,” Gluckstern said. He also added that there are about 8 million families whose houses are underwater, and 1 out of 4 have negative equity in their homes.
He also said that the current housing crisis is a local problem, and has to be solved locally. “There is no ‘them’ anymore. Local communities need to take this in their own hands.”
Opportunities for small businesses
After the luncheon, conference participants attended an afternoon session which concentrated on job creation through small business development.
Moderated by Claudia Viek of the California Association for Microenterprise Opportunity, the panel included Loida Nicolas Lewis, Chair and CEO of TLC Beatrice, LLC; Don Graves; Luke Reynolds, Acting Associate Director for Community Affairs of the FDIC; and Elizabeth Echols, Regional Administrator of the US Small Business Administration.
Both Reynolds and Echols shared information on some of the programs that the FDIC and the SBA have made available to the public. Reynolds, in particular, showed a CD called “Money Smart for Small Businesses,” an instructor-led training curriculum jointly developed by the FDIC and the SBA.
Lewis shared her history in the business world, from the time when she had to take over TLC Beatrice with the untimely passing of her husband, Reginald Lewis, to her two failed ventures in China and the Philippines.
According to Lewis, a budding entrepreneur need not set up his or her own business. He or she can buy an existing one, go to the bank and show them the business plan in order to get a loan. Knowing all the facets of the business, including where every dollar goes to, is very important, she added.
“If you have money in the bank but you have not paid yourself a salary, that’s bad accounting,” Lewis commented. “That is already a mistake. Of course, you have to pay yourself a salary for all the hours that you were working.”
On her failed ventures, Lewis said the most important things that she learned are that due diligence is needed when setting up a business especially in other countries, you have to be present at all times to preside over the operations, and that you need to be able to hire and surround yourself with trustworthy and credible people.
Graves, for his part, advised participants to go into a business that is familiar to them. He cited healthcare, manufacturing and technology as some of the US industries that currently present many opportunities for entrepreneurs.
Graves also mentioned that there are a number of programs designed to work with people who want to repair their credit, including taking advantage of collateral and risk reduction programs from the state small business credit initiative and going to community development financial institutions.
Other guests during the conference include Marie Johns, Deputy Administrator of the US Business Administration and Dr. J. Alfred.
The conference ended with a networking mixer among participants in the main hall of the South San Francisco Conference Center.