Women Owned Businesses

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2006 SRP Arizona Business Study Focus on Women Owned-Business SRP and ASU have released the first annual study of Arizona women-owned businesses. It provides information to help business people understand the issues and concerns influencing women-owned businesses in Arizona. Heidi Schaefer, SRP Manager of Research and Development and business owner Delia Zuniga join Horizonte to talk about the study.

Richard Ruelas:
Good evening, I'm Richard Ruelas in tonight for José Cárdenas. Welcome to Horizonte. Thousands of people marched in Phoenix and across the country to push for immigration reform, but will it make a difference to the debates surrounding immigration legislation? We'll talk about the political climate surrounding the issue. And the study focused on businesses owned by women. We'll talk about the results and hear how one woman turned her business into a success story. Those stories coming up next on Horizonte.

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Richard Ruelas:
Thousands of immigrants and their supporters marched through valley streets Tuesday demanding that Congress reform immigration laws. Larry Lemmons reports on the march that drew people from both sides of the immigration debate.

Larry Lemmons:
Fewer than the number of marchers that turned out last year, this year's May-day march was sizable nonetheless. More than 15,000 people walked from the state fairgrounds down Grand and then west on Jefferson to the Capitol. Why are you marching?

Anonymous woman1:
Why am I marching? Because I want immigration to give everybody a chance to work here. So that why. So I want people to -- as you can see, everybody wants to be here and work and not being afraid.

[Music playing]

Anonymous woman2: Immigration reform that's equal and justice to all of us and we should all have the same rights and opportunities.

[Spanish speaking]

Larry Lemmons:
Organizers spoke to the crowd on Wesley Bullen Plaza.

Elias Bermudez:
This is truly a response from the people. It doesn't matter who the leader is. It doesn't matter who the organization is. It is the people that is responding and the people we owe ourselves to. These people had fear but they turned their fear into courage, and they're here.

Ray Gano:
And I think that this is just the beginning. I think, as you know, as time goes by, we are going to see an increase of people that will be interested -- more interested -- in citizenship, registering to vote. So it's an awakening for both sides.

Anonymous woman3:
You need to be legal! And we're going to fix the people who hire you, too.

Larry Lemmons:
Counter-demonstrators greeted the marchers as they neared the Capitol. A collection of anti-illegal immigration organizations gathered on the Capitol lawn to collect signatures for Representative Russell Pearce's central ballot propositions. They would punish employers who knowingly hire illegal immigrants. And would require local police to enforce federal immigration laws.

Rep. Russell Pearce:
These people-they waited in line, they're offended that people in this country illegally would march down this street and demand stuff. It's inappropriate.

Buffalo Rick Galeener:
If you want to work and you want to come to this country legally, we're more than willing to help you and give you every advantage in the world. That's what this country's about. But to come here and demand services, demand free things, it's just not the American way.

Larry Lemmons:
Police reported no arrests during the day, although it was evident that frustration played a large role in both demonstrations.

Rep. Ben Miranda:
I think it's an indication of people's frustration as well with immigration policies of this country. I think all of them are talking about the same message really when you do see both sides of the argument, and that shows a need for making economic sense of the world we live in. And that means that we need labor in this country and we need it in better, more quantities than we have it right now. So as long as we have an antiquated visa system and as long as we keep closing the border without allowing a visa program to function, we're going to have problems.

Larry Lemmons:
Those who marched with César Chavez could not help but notice these recent demonstrations are less violent than they were in the 1960's.

Benito Abeytia:
One of the things I notice--there was less violence nowadays than there was back then. Back then, there was too much violence. But I'm sure César would be happy to see such a big crowd without any violence at all.

Richard Ruelas:
Joining me to talk about the march and immigration issue is Jessica Pacheco. Jessica is the Senior Vice President of Public Affairs with the Arizona Chamber of Commerce. Also here is A.S.U. Assistant Professor of Political Science Rodolfo Espino. Thank you both for joining me tonight.

Jessica Pacheco:
Thanks for having us.

Richard Ruelas:
Jessica, this march--obviously these marches aren't marked by violence but seem to be marked with less passion than they were a year ago. What do you see as far as the number of marchers having to do with the chances of immigration reform being changed or are they linked at all?

Jessica Pacheco:
Well, the environment is different. But what we really need to concentrate on is what we can do. And what we can do is focus that energy towards Washington for federal immigration reform. We desperately need it. All of us agree that we need to reform our immigration system here in this country and we need to make sure our federal representatives hear that message loud and clear. I'd love to have each of those 15,000 or 20,000 marchers make sure that they write the Congressional delegation here in Arizona asking them for federal immigration reform. I'd like all the marchers nationally to do that. That's an action they can do that will be felt very loudly in Washington.

Richard Ruelas:
Rodolfo, some of the people who marched obviously are not going to be able to vote. Was their mere presence last year, a little bit this year, a wake-up call, letting representatives know this is something we actually have to start looking at?

Rodolfo Espino:
Well certainly it's letting elected officials know that this issue has not gone away. It's still on the burner and it's something that's going to come up in the presidential elections and debates that we're going to be seeing transpire over the next year.

Richard Ruelas:
It's a very complicated issue, and we also see a lot of anger out there at the march scene. Rodolfo, what do you make of the anger? Why are people so angry and emotional about this issue?

Rodolfo Espino:
Well, it's an issue that is -- it crosses party lines. It's not easy to lump as this is a democratic issue, this is a republican issue. And as a result, you're seeing politicians struggling to figure out this amongst themselves. And as a result, we're not seeing any progress being made, and this is really frustrating voters. And so as a result, you see these passions spilling over into the streets.

Richard Ruelas:
Do you think, Jessica, that Congress will have the political will to see past the anger? What do you think chances are of reform?

Jessica Pacheco:
I certainly hope so. And we have two leaders of our federal delegation here. Congressman Flake with his STRIVE Act and his great efforts on that front and also Senator Kyl and frankly Senator McCain who are both working with Senator Kennedy in trying to get bipartisan legislation through both houses in Washington. And, again, I can't say enough how important it is that all of us focus and harness this collective energy around this issue towards Washington. All of the delegates there representing all of the people across the U.S. need to hear from us that we don't want this to become a presidential issue; we want it addressed this year.

Richard Ruelas:
But when McCain did announce a proposal, obviously he was bipartisan bill with Kennedy, and he was roundly criticized when republican circles from announcing some sort of amnesty program, and he's had to explain over and over how his program is not amnesty. President Bush has used the same kind of words. Do you think that message is getting through?

Rodolfo Espino:
I don't think so yet. And I think there's still a battle on the political theater exactly how to frame this. Do you frame this was a guest worker versus amnesty guest worker that's temporary? You have to send workers back after three to six years. Is this a path to citizenship by which these guest workers will not have to go back but will be guaranteed permanent citizenship? Again, it's a framing issue that politicians are figuring out what's going to help them.

Richard Ruelas:
If we can get to some of the-- maybe rationalizing some of the anger, one of the gentleman in the interview said, I don't mind if they're here and want to work, just do so legally. Are there mechanisms by which maybe uneducated or low-skill workers can come and get a job in the industries that need them?

Jessica Pacheco:
Well, as was mentioned earlier, there are mechanisms, but they're antiquated. Quite frankly, our visa system is antiquated. But we're not talking about low-skilled workers or non-skilled workers. The H1B visa category, which is for high skilled -- we're talking about engineers, software developers, scientists -- we have a cap at 85,000 H1B visas, and that's ridiculous. Quite frankly, we should invite every scientist or software engineer or engineer that wants to create tomorrow's marvel to do so here in this country. And companies like Intel, Honeywell, Motorola are --have been speaking to our federal delegation in Washington for years asking them to expand that category. And so we need to look at this really from a holistic standpoint, step back, look at the entire problem, and demand comprehensive immigration reforms.

Richard Ruelas:
But are there industries that you hear from here in the state that do need a supply of low-skilled workers?

Jessica Pacheco:
Absolutely there are. We need workers in all of our categories. And so I don't want to only talk about low-skilled workers. But we have more people leaving the U.S. workforce starting in 2008 than we have joining it, and so we need to again address our workforce development issues at every level. Not only low-to-non-skilled laborers but also, as I was mentioning, at the very highest echelon of the workforce.

Richard Ruelas:
Also, what do you say chances of Congress actually tackling this? Do you think they will have the will, Rodolfo, to take on this issue?

Rodolfo Espino:
I think it's going to be quite difficult. There is this window of opportunity given that we have a democratic-controlled Congress that wants to push this through. We have a republican president that wants to push through immigration reform, but currently they're preoccupied with other issues, namely Iraq. And it seems, as of late, scandals that are coming out of the administration almost every other day.

Richard Ruelas:
And if Congress doesn't take control, it seems as if, by piecemeal, states and Arizona has tried this a lot, what is the status, Jessica, of some of the Arizona legislation-especially I guess Russell Pearce was out there getting signatures for ballot proposals that would target employers.

Jessica Pacheco:
Right.

Richard Ruelas:
What is the chamber's position on Russell Pearce's ballot measure?

Jessica Pacheco:
We are adamantly opposed to Arizona engaging in trying to frame the immigration problem here in Arizona. Piecemeal immigration reform is not going to work. We need it at the federal level. And so anything that the state might do on employer sanctions or ballot initiative addressing employer sanctions we are opposed to.

Richard Ruelas:
With the states taking over some of the lead, what do you think that says about the frustration? And is there a way for that energy to stop? Do you think if Congress does pass a guest worker program states and some of these politicians will say, ok, we're backing off?

Rodolfo Espino:
It depends on the states of course. There would be some very, very red states that would never be happy with what Congress would pass if they were to pass--

Richard Ruelas:
Do you think that Arizona is one of those states?

Rodolfo Espino:
Arizona has a delegation of politicians that will never be happy with what Congress does. Now, I agree with Jessica that, if we're going to have any reform, it must be at the federal level, because -- you know -- we have spillover effects if one state does something, another state does something else. However, I would say that the movement at the state level can have an effect of forcing Congress to do something about it. It sends signals when we see states engaging in this piecemeal action, it tells Congress you've got to do something about it so actually I see that maybe there's some advantage.

Jessica Pacheco:
If I could jump into your answer, I don't think it's a red or blue issue, and quite frankly there's significant division, and we fall into the trap that's being laid for us by defining it as a red or blue issue. Like a red state doesn't want reform or a blue state does.

Richard Ruelas:
Right.

Jessica Pacheco:
And that's why we need to, united, send the message to Washington, that regardless of what your affiliation is, we need comprehensive immigration reform. It's good for everyone in every party.

Richard Ruelas:
Do you think businesses have done enough to speak about the need of labor? And, again, not the need of engineers and the high skills we're talking about, because I don't think you'd see a lot of anger about that, but the need for people picking lettuce, people making beds at hotels. Has businesses made the case that they need this labor?

Jessica Pacheco:
We've been talking about it and we will continue to be having those conversations. And so will we be speaking in a louder voice? Absolutely. That's part of the reason that I'm here. We need comprehensive immigration reform at the federal level. [Laughter]

Richard Ruelas:
If businesses do start speaking and saying if, you know, concrete examples, if we don't pass this reform, if you send them all back, price of lettuce will go up or you're not going to be able to get your home constructed, do you think that will resonate or is the anger too far gone?

Rodolfo Espino:
Well I think businesses you are seeing a move and evidence by Jessica's presence here. They're recognizing that there's a need for this labor. Now, is that going to -- what is that going to do to Democrats? What's that going to do to Republicans? It remains to be seen. But I think Jessica is right that this is accurate it's an issue that crosses party lines.

Richard Ruelas:
A bunch of Arizona business leaders went to Washington, I understand.

Jessica Pacheco:
They did.

Richard Ruelas:
Who went, and what was the message for the delegation?

Jessica Pacheco:
There were 19 different Chambers of Commerce represented by about roughly 25 participants, and again the message was to the federal delegation of Arizona that we need comprehensive immigration reform. We recognize that everybody needs to play party politics, and I think you said it very well when you were talking about the political stage and where everybody is positioned. But right now, as a country, and from a good public policy standpoint, we need comprehensive immigration reform at the federal level, and we need it now. We don't want this issue to become one that's debated in the presidential election. We want it already taken care of.

Richard Ruelas:
Because if Arizona passes some of the initiatives on the table, Arizona's at a competitive disadvantage for other states?

Jessica Pacheco:
Significant.

Richard Ruelas:
And I guess at the end of the day, since we're talking about this need for Congressional reform, did the march this week move the needle at all? Or are these marchers sort of again letting people know something that already--

Rodolfo Espino:
It may have moved the needle at local levels, but again that won't matter at the federal level and the federal level is where significant reform has to take place. And, again, why is it not taking place in Congress? They're distracted by other issues that are before them right now.

Richard Ruelas:
And from the business community's perspective, do these continual marches, if they keep going on year after year, do they help or do they harm?

Jessica Pacheco:
I think that everybody has a right to protest, and we believe in freedom and we believe in that right to protest. But we don't believe it's addressing the issue, we'd much rather see every single person that was participating, write the letter to Congress.

Richard Ruelas:
Thank you both for joining us-for joining Horizonte on this very complicated, complex issue.

Jessica Pacheco:
Thank you.

Richard Ruelas:
This week's Salt River Project, A.S.U. and WestGroup Research released results of the first annual comprehensive study of women's -- of Arizona's women-owned businesses that will help provide insight to the issues and concerns facing women business owners today. Here is the story of one of the women profiled in the study, Delia Zuniga.

Delia Zuniga:
My name is Delia Zuniga, and my company is Advantage Plus Credit Reporting Inc. We are a credit reporting agency. We work with mortgage brokers, mortgage lenders, real estate offices, anything that requires a credit report. We moved to Arizona, and I worked here for another company for about five years. Same kind of business, mortgage credit reporting. I am very customer service oriented, and things were changing, and I wanted to make sure that the customers got what they needed, and that's when I decided to resign from that company and start my own. Started out of the house and -- you know -- I had called, you know, some companies to see if they would use my service if I would open up my own business and they knew the kind of service we had provided-or I had provided to them in the past. Right away, they said, yeah, absolutely. Clients started calling me. They wanted to send me more reports. I figured I'd just do a little bit of work -- you know -- take care of my son, 'cause I had a brand-new son, too. [Laughter] And so I said, I'd just do a little bit of work, and then the evening would be dedicated to my son and everything, because he was in day care. So didn't happen. I just started getting a lot, a lot of business coming New York and I hired a person to come in and help me during the day. Pretty soon we needed more help and more help because we had the businesses coming in. Lots of work and lots of perseverance, lots of work, lots of long evenings. A lot. It takes a lot. A lot of people tell me that they've had a lot of challenge because they're women owned, but I haven't really experienced a lot of that. In fact I think it's worked to my advantage being a woman. Talk to positive people, positive people, people that are going to encourage you to try something. You have to try because if you don't try, you won't know if it's going to work or not.

Richard Ruelas:
Joining me now is Heidi Schaefer. Heidi is SRP's Manager of Research and Development. Also here is Delia Zuniga who we just saw on TV a second ago. Thanks for joining us. Why did SRP choose to look at women-owned businesses in particular?

Heidi Schaefer:
SRP has done a study on Hispanic businesses, and this is a natural outgrowth of that study to bring another segment of our business economy in and take a deep look at what are the issues, who are these women, what are the businesses that they're operating in?

Richard Ruelas:
Delia, looking at the study, there's some challenges that seem unique to women-owned businesses and I don't know which you think apply to you. Do you think you were treated with the same credibility and respect as if you were a man starting your independent business?

Delia Zuniga:
I feel like I was.

Richard Ruelas:
As far as discrimination of suppliers or access to capital, do you think you were treated differently from--?

Delia Zuniga:
No. I never had a challenge with that.

Richard Ruelas:
Great. What happened to the challenges you faced? Have they been the challenges I guess are essential to anyone who's starting a business?

Delia Zuniga:
Right.

Richard Ruelas:
Such as?

Delia Zuniga:
Such as, first of all, starting out of the house. You know, that was a challenge, trying to fit the business into your personal life. Outgrowing that quickly and then moving into another office, that was another challenge. But we saw it as a positive challenge, and it gave us room to grow.

Richard Ruelas:
Heidi, how unique is her experience as far as not seeing not much change from a male-owned business?

Heidi Schaefer:
Very typical. What we found in the study that women-owned businesses, their biggest challenge are the same challenges as small businesses across the board. The majority of women said exactly what Delia just said. I am not unique because I am a woman. I'm a small business owner and I've got the same challenges as our male counterparts.

Richard Ruelas:
Was that a surprise?

Heidi Schaefer:
I guess it wasn't a surprise to me, but I was glad that it was affirmed. I was glad we're moving beyond some of the challenges that women have felt in the past. Although I will add that there was about -- there's always a segment that does feel that they are being challenged and they're having stereotypes set on them because they are women-owned businesses. And you'll see some quotes in the study where women said, I have had to overcome the fact that someone came into my business and expected a man to talk to when they asked for the owner.

Richard Ruelas:
But you haven't faced any of that as far as your home-based business?

Delia Zuniga:
No. I'm not home-based anymore.

Richard Ruelas:
Well, that's wonderful. That's wonderful.

Delia Zuniga:
Yeah.

Richard Ruelas:
How do you expect women business owners to use the data that you found here?

Heidi Schaefer:
There are some great findings in this data. We found that women business owners, 40% of them do not still operate under a business plan, so that's a key indicator for those of us who help women-owned businesses and hopefully a key indicator for women-owned businesses. 50% of them are also not networking with other women-owned businesses so they're not reaching out there. They're embroiled in their own operations. They have an opportunity to reach out and find out what other women are doing to make things happen. I was kind of surprised that 75% of them had never heard of supplier diversity programs. SRP and other large corporations have supplier diversity programs so that we can make sure we are reaching out to minority and women-owned businesses. 75% of our respondents had not even heard of these programs. So I am really hopeful that they could take some of this and understand there are avenues out there that many of them have not plugged into yet.

Richard Ruelas:
The study, I understand, was presented a nice salmon lunch at the commission.

Delia Zuniga:
Yes, it was.

Richard Ruelas:
Talk about how that must have felt to be in a room full of other women business owners.

Delia Zuniga:
It was great. It was a great feeling. Very, very empowering. Makes you feel good about what you're doing because you're helping other people. The community -- you know -- and the family. The family, too. They see you grow, and then they want to do the same thing. It's just inspiring to them.

Richard Ruelas:
I imagine at times it has to feel like you're alone, especially as a-- not only as a woman but a sole business owner--that you're alone. You don't get an opportunity to interact like this. Did you do some networking and make some contacts?

Delia Zuniga:
A little bit. It was pretty busy there, so -- it was over 500 people. Yeah. But it was very, very nice. They did a really great job.

Richard Ruelas:
And so do you see yourself being a model for those coming up as far as--

Delia Zuniga:
Right. Right.

Richard Ruelas:
--Thinking as a business owner and thinking it could be someone who looks like you?

Delia Zuniga:
Right. And they can do it. It's possible.

Richard Ruelas:
What else is on the table for SRP as far as studies? I know you do the Hispanic market every year.

Heidi Schaefer:
That's right.

Richard Ruelas:
People have come to expect that.

Heidi Schaefer:
That's right.

Richard Ruelas:
Is this going to be a continuing study as well?

Heidi Schaefer:
It will. Thanks for asking. We'll continue to do this study. We're out in the field right now with this study and the Hispanic study. And then we are enlarging it to include other minorities. So hopefully we will pick up all the minorities as well as women owned and be able to have those results out next year.

Richard Ruelas:
And I guess we would like to think that all those studies will, as this one -- I guess this one was good news. I mean does it surprise you to find out your counterparts did not experience discrimination or did not feel they were treated differently?

Delia Zuniga:
Yes.

Richard Ruelas:
So you must've expected-- did you expect any yourself when you started?

Delia Zuniga:
No, I did not. I didn't let that stop me. I didn't see anything like that. I said, I'm going to do it.

Richard Ruelas:
And I guess we would hope that the other studies as well show the same type of finding.

Heidi Schaefer:
I hope so. And you're seeing in Delia the exact profile that we found in our study participants. Risk takers, can-do attitude, optimistic. I didn't even look for that. You heard her say that. I didn't even looking for that if it was out there, because I'm going to make this happen. And now her son -- she has encouraged her son to have his own business, so that's what we found in the study.

Richard Ruelas:
Well I guess, to that can-do attitude, what do you think that springs from? What gave you the gumption to really start this business?

Delia Zuniga:
A lot of different things. I can't say it's just one but a lot of different things. I wanted to service the clients, service my mortgage clients that I had in my previous job, and things were changing in my previous job, and I resigned from that job, and that's when I started my own.

Richard Ruelas:
And you never had a thought of -- I guess you knew it was going to be difficult, but you never had a thought of, not only am I a female minority, I can't do this.

Delia Zuniga:
No. No.

Richard Ruelas:
Did that spring from family support, upbringing?

Delia Zuniga:
Probably my husband. [Laughter] He's a great support. And my family, too.

Richard Ruelas:
Well, great. And we'll look for the husband pi chart in the next report.

Heidi Schaefer:
That's probably a good idea.

Richard Ruelas:
Delia and Heidi, thank you both for joining me tonight.

Delia Zuniga:
Thank you.

Heidi Schaefer:
Thank you.

Richard Ruelas:
And thanks out there for watching on this Thursday night. I'm Richard Ruelas in tonight for José Cárdenas. And for all of us here at Horizonte, have a good evening.

Rodolfo Espino: Assistant Professor of Political Science, Arizona State University;

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