Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to present at the Wilson Center Mexico Institute's U.S Mexico Border conference in Washington DC on "border banking challenges". It was an honor to participate on a panel with Jose Luis Stein of Mexico's National Banking and Securities Commission and Hector Cerna, the CEO of the International Bank of Commerce in Eagle Pass, Texas. The Wilson Center's Mexico Institute is the premiere "think tank" organization on U.S Mexico relations.
Our panel focused on the impact on our business community due to the increased regulations on the U.S banking industry stipulated in the Dodd Frank bill. Over the last several years, we have experienced branch closures along the border and a cancellation of depository accounts for businesses deemed higher risk. Unfortunately, several of the national banks operating in border states have not seen the value of continued service to its border banking customers with the additional cost of regulations. I addressed the challenges in meeting our state’s exporting goals with a lack of access to capital and spoke about policy changes necessary and financial solutions. I was encouraged by the comments by both of my panel colleagues who spoke about improved information sharing between U.S and Mexican financial systems, and the success that IBC has had in serving the border communities in Texas and Oklahoma.
The Tucson Hispanic Chamber represents close to 1800 businesses in Arizona and Sonora, and we focus on programs and services that can assist in growing our member’s businesses. Due to the high level of frustration among our members on the challenges in accessing capital, our chamber has taken an innovative approach to solve this financial crisis and in partnership with the Arizona Chamber of Commerce has launched the www.ArizonaBIZLoans.com portal. The business lending website is supported by online lenders Fundera (which represents more than 30 lenders) and Credit Junction. Though rates are higher, it provides financing options for businesses who cannot use traditional methods or are in industries untouchable by most lenders. Our chamber has received very positive feedback from the business community who are looking for alternative lending options.
While in DC, I also had the pleasure of attending the launch of an exciting new bi-national private industry initiative - #One Border. #One Border is comprised of business leaders from California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas as well as Chihuahua, Sonora and Baja California. The coalition is forming and additional private industry groups are welcome to join. The purpose is to create a common policy agenda and a collaborative entity that can advocate on behalf of the U.S and Mexican border states at both of our nation’s Capitols. Discussion focused on trusted traveler programs, infrastructure, the impact of the upcoming presidential election, and communication. Rather than lobby on behalf of issues facing our individual ports of entry, we agreed that there would be a great show of strength in meeting with our elected leaders as a unified “border” voice. I look forward to continued engagement in the dialogue representing Arizona. Learn more about these important discussions at www.TucsonHispanicChamber.org.
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Our goal is to help member companies grow and prosper. We work to achieve this goal by advocating a pro-business agenda in Tucson and connecting members with business leaders and policy makers. How? With Networking & educational events, and online initiatives — like this blog.