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HISPANIC (B)

HISPANIC (B)

Unfulfilled pledge by Trump White House on Spanish website

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Nada de nada — nothing at all.

A year into the Trump administration, the White House website
still has no Spanish-language content, unlike during the two
previous administrations and even though nearly 1 in 5 people in
the United States speaks Spanish.

Even Iran and reclusive North Korea have made efforts to reach
out to the Spanish-speaking world. In the U.S., meanwhile,
President Donald Trump’s anti-immigrant rhetoric and his plan to
build a wall on the border with Mexico are alienating some
Hispanics.

A year ago, then-presidential press secretary Sean Spicer said
the new administration had deleted Spanish content on the White
House webpage but its information technology folks were “working
overtime” to develop a new site. In July, the White House
director of media affairs, Helen Aguirre Ferre, said she expected
a Spanish website to launch at the end of 2017.

Now, Aguirre Ferre declines to say whether there are still plans
to have a Spanish-language website.

“We continue to work on improving the White House website
providing important content in English pertaining to the
initiatives and policies the Trump administration is
undertaking,” she said in an email.

Javier Palomarez, president and CEO of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber
of Commerce, said the absence of a White House webpage in Spanish
“sends a very troubling message.”

“There are over 4 million Hispanic-American entrepreneurs and
businesspeople in this country, many of whom are receptive to the
administration’s pro-business agenda,” Palomarez wrote in an
email. “If they made even a little effort to communicate and
engage with the Latino community, perhaps they would win a few of
them over.”

As Latinos became the largest minority in the U.S., President
George W. Bush’s administration added Spanish-language content to
the White House website for the first time.

Luis Miranda, director of Hispanic media at the White House under
President Barack Obama, said the Spanish-language site during
Obama’s tenure included information geared to Latinos on topics
such as immigration, health issues, banking and veterans affairs.

During his presidential campaign, Trump criticized GOP rival Jeb
Bush for answering a reporter’s question in Spanish, saying the
former Florida governor “should really set the example by
speaking English while in the United States.” Trump also turned
off many Hispanic voters with his harsh anti-immigration
rhetoric, referring to many Mexican immigrants “criminals” and
“rapists.”

The Trump White House does keep a Spanish Twitter account,
@LaCasaBlanca, but it is not very active. Created the same month,
January 2017, as its English equivalent, @White House, it has
about 200 tweets compared with almost 3,200 on the English
version.

The U.S. does provide news in Spanish and 40 other languages
through the government-funded news outlet Voice of America. Also,
the official guide to government information and services runs
gobierno.usa.gov, and other agencies — including the Internal
Revenue Service and the Department of Homeland Security — offer
information in Spanish in their websites.

The current White House website offers a clear contrast with
efforts of other countries to communicate with Spanish speakers,
who number at least 572 million worldwide, according to The
Instituto Cervantes, created by the government of Spain.

In North Korea, the government’s Korea Central News Agency, the
only news agency in the communist country, offers content not
only in Korean but also in English, Russian and Spanish.

Alejandro Cao de Benos, a Spanish citizen who says he’s been a
special delegate for North Korea’s Committee of Cultural
Relations since 2002, told The Associated Press that Spanish “is
a very important language to share Korean reality from Korea.”

Cao de Benos said North Korea shares its message in Spanish
because it wants to foster relations with Latin American nations.
The North has embassies in several capitals in the region,
including Brasilia, Brazil; Caracas, Venezuela; Havana; and
Mexico City.

In 2012, Iran launched Hispan-TV, a 24-hour Spanish-language TV
station based in Tehran.

The foreign ministries of China and Russia offer abundant content
in several languages, including Spanish.

___

AP Bureau Chief Eric Talmadge in Pyongyang, North Korea,
contributed to this report.

___

Follow Luis Alonso Lugo on Twitter:
www.twitter.com/luisalonsolugo



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HISPANIC (B)

Armed suspects rob Liberty City business

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Posted

Two armed men held up a Liberty City convenience store early Friday morning then fled, disappearing into the night.

Gregg County Sheriff’s Office deputies were called to Zippy J’s No. 7 shortly after 1 a.m. The aggravated robbery case at 6242 N. Old Hwy. 135 is ongoing as investigators scour video footage for additional clues about the masked suspects.

“Two unknown white or Hispanic males entered the location, presented a weapon and demanded money from the clerk,” GCSO Cpl. Josh Tubb reported Friday.

Both men were thin and wore dark clothing, he noted, and their faces were concealed. One suspect stood about 6-feet-tall, the other between 5-feet, 5- or 8-inches. There’s no estimate yet on the pair’s ages.

“After receiving an undisclosed amount of U.S. currency, they fled the store in an unknown direction of travel,” Tubb said. They may have escaped the scene in a late model, light-colored Dodge Charger R/T, he added later.

The sheriff’s office spokesman had no details to share about the suspect’s weapon.

The combined gas station / fast food restaurant is adjacent to Interstate 20.

“Our investigators are still working and collecting evidence,” Tubb added. “At this time, that’s all we have. We’re asking anyone to contact the Gregg County Sheriff’s Department or Crimestoppers if they have information or witnessed anything happening in the area at that time.”

Reach investigator David Falco at 903-236-8438 or submit leads to Crimestoppers via 903-236-7867 or online at GreggCountyCrimestoppers.org.



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HISPANIC (B)

City Amends Airport Concessionaire Request After Protest From Business Leaders

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The City of San Antonio changed course Friday regarding a request for proposals for an airport concessionaire contract.

After a group of business leaders and others challenged what they perceived to be pro-union language in the request this week, bidders are being asked to submit two separate proposals: one with a labor peace agreement, and one without.

“The original RFP [request for proposals] was a deviation from normal policy, and it deserves thoughtful consideration by stakeholders,” Mayor Ron Nirenberg stated. “The addendum to the RFP allows us to have an open, transparent discussion about procurement policy without being locked into a decision before that takes place.”



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HISPANIC (B)

Budget finally OK, Congress heads into big immigration fight

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Republican leaders, top Democrats and President Donald Trump are all claiming big wins in the $400 billion budget agreement signed into law Friday. But the push to pass the massive legislation underscored enduring divisions within both parties, and those rifts are likely to make the next fight over immigration even more challenging.

In Washington’s latest display of governance by brinkmanship, the bipartisan accord bolstering military and domestic programs and deepening federal deficits crossed the finish line just before dawn — but not before the government shut down overnight.

Passage left nerves frayed and Democrats with little leverage to force congressional action on their most high-profile priority: preventing deportation of hundreds of thousands of the young immigrants who arrived in the U.S. as children and remain here without permanent legal protection.

Lawmakers rushed to limit the disruption and impact over the lapse in government funding, voting in the middle of the night to reopen agencies before workers were due to report to the office. It was the government’s second shutdown in three weeks, and most lawmakers were eager to avoid a big show of dysfunction in an election year.

Sen. Rand Paul did not share the urgency. Late Thursday, the tea party leader and Kentucky Republican put the brakes on the bill in protest over Congress’ sudden willingness to embrace big deficit spending. Paul noted that he and many in his party railed against deficit when Democrats held the White House, but now seemed willing to look the other way with Republicans in control.

He said he hoped his stand would teach conservatives “to not accept just anything because it comes from a GOP Congress.”

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Paul’s call clearly angered Republican leaders — Sen. John Cornyn called it “grossly irresponsible” — and it exposed a contradiction that may come to haunt Republicans as they try to fire up conservatives in midterm elections.

The budget measure provides Pentagon spending increases sought by Trump and the GOP, more money for domestic agencies demanded by Democrats and $89 billion that both wanted for disaster relief. The two-year pact, which also continues the government’s authority to borrow money, postpones any possible federal default or likely shutdowns until after the November elections.

But the 652-page budget bill says nothing about protection for the “Dreamer” immigrants. That omission largely explains why a quarter of Senate Democrats and a third of House Democrats voted no, and why immigration now because the next battle. In January, after a three-day closure, Senate Democrats secured from GOP leaders the promise of a debate and vote on a deal to protect the younger immigrants from deportation.

“Democrats have fought hard but, in the end, many opted to say yes to other priorities and leave Dreamers behind,” said Frank Sharry, executive director of the pro-immigration America’s Voice. He called that decision plus opposition by many Republicans “inhumane and indecent.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., set next Monday as the start of a free-wheeling immigration battle, a debate he promised when Democrats agreed to vote to reopen the government last month. Ryan hasn’t scheduled House consideration, infuriating Democrats, but he said Friday, “We will focus on bringing that debate to this floor and finding a solution.”

Democrats want to extend the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, which lets the immigrants temporarily live and work in the U.S. but that Trump would end March 5. The Democrats also want to make the immigrants eligible for citizenship or permanent residence.

In exchange, Trump wants $25 billion to build his beloved, proposed U.S.-Mexico border wall and other barriers. He also wants reductions in legal immigration, including limiting the relatives whom legal residents can sponsor and eliminating a lottery that offers visas to residents of diverse countries.

There’s no obvious compromise that could win the 60 votes from Republicans and Democrats needed to prevail in the Senate. The most promising outcome may be a narrow bill extending DACA protections for a year or so and providing some border security money for Trump.

Whatever happens, this week’s budget battle dealt a clear immigration defeat to Democrats, who’d initially vowed to block spending bills until there was a deal to help the Dreamers. The setback left party members divided.

No. 2 Senate Democratic leader Richard Durbin of Illinois, a leader in the immigration fight, said the budget pact “opens the door” for Senate votes on protecting the young immigrants. But Rep. Luis Gutierrez, D-Ill., said anyone supporting the spending measure was “colluding with this president and this administration to deport Dreamers.”

Such disputes won’t help the party energize the Hispanic and liberal voters it will need as it tries capturing House and perhaps Senate control in November.

Immigration divides Republicans, too.

Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona is preparing compromises to offer during his chamber’s upcoming debate and says his party will suffer in November if the issue isn’t addressed. No. 3 House GOP leader Steve Scalise of Louisiana says Republicans still disagree about “how to handle this number of people that Barack Obama encouraged to come in here illegally.”

With the immigration fight looming, Congress voted overnight to finance the government through March 23, giving budget-writers time to craft detailed legislation funding agencies through the rest of this fiscal year.

The House voted 240-186 to approve the bill just before dawn Eastern time, hours after the Senate approved the measure 71-28, with some of Congress’ most conservative and liberal lawmakers voting no. Trump signed it as business hours began, and he couldn’t resist a dig.

“This Bill is a BIG VICTORY for our Military, but much waste in order to get Dem votes,” he tweeted. “Fortunately, DACA not included in this Bill, negotiations to start now!”

___

AP reporters Matthew Daly and Andrew Taylor contributed.



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HISPANIC (B)

TAMIU's Small Business Development Center holds graduation ceremony

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LAREDO, Texas (KGNS) – A total of 92 current and future small business owners received their small business management certificate on Friday.

Texas A&M International University’s Small Business Development Center held its annual graduation at the Monte Carlo Reception Hall.

The TAMIU SBDC is proud to announce a record-breaking number of graduates for the program.

Graduates took courses in various business topics including marketing, accounting, taxes and human resources.

The director of the center says its current class is 95 percent Hispanic, 75 percent women and 20 percent of them currently own a business and are looking to expand.



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HISPANIC (B)

Businesses along Texas border fear 'going belly up' without NAFTA

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EL PASO — Erives Enterprises, a trucking company in this Texas border city, recently capped its best year ever, hiring workers and handing out raises as its business hauling everything from cars to snowmobiles boomed alongside the factories making the products across the Rio Grande.

Despite the international border, El Paso and its Mexican neighbor, Ciudad Juarez, have knitted themselves into a single, interdependent economy, especially since 1994, when the North American Free Trade Agreement lowered barriers to trade between the United States, Mexico and Canada.


As trucks owned by Erives and other local companies carry billions of dollars in merchandise in long, lumbering lines across the border, at least one in every four jobs in El Paso can be traced to manufacturing plants in Juarez.

MORE: Texas oil companies tell Trump to leave NAFTA alone

But the fate of this link between Mexican factories and Texas companies hinges on fraught negotiations to update NAFTA, scheduled to resume in Mexico City later this month. Businesses on both sides of the border are increasingly worried that President Donald Trump will follow through on his threat to pull the United States out of the treaty, undermining the free flow of goods and services that has sustained them for more than two decades.

“If NAFTA ends, we’re going belly up,” said Angel Ponce, who oversees sales at Erives. “The business will literally go away.”

Angel Pone, sales representative at Erives Enterprises, talks about NAFTA during an interview at his office on Friday, Feb. 2, 2018, in El Paso, Texas. ( Brett Coomer / Houston Chronicle ) Photo: Brett Coomer/Houston Chronicle


Photo: Brett Coomer/Houston Chronicle


Angel Pone, sales representative at Erives Enterprises, talks about NAFTA during an interview at his office on Friday, Feb. 2, 2018, in El Paso, Texas. ( Brett Coomer / Houston Chronicle )

Erives, which employs more than 200 people, is just one of the thousands of companies across Texas that have prospered from trade with Mexico and fear disaster should NAFTA unravel. Few states have as much at stake as Texas in the NAFTA negotiations.

Mexico is the destination for 40 percent of the state’s exports — some $90 billion in goods alone were sold to Mexico in 2016 — and an increasingly important market for the Texas and Houston energy industry, which exports natural gas and fuels to the growing market south of the border.

In El Paso, businesses from warehouses to accountants to financial services depend on the maquiladora industry in Juarez. The end of NAFTA, analysts said, would likely push Mexico into recession and disrupt supply chains, leading to layoffs and bankruptcies in El Paso and slower economic growth across Texas and the United States.

“Everything could decelerate,” said Thomas Fullerton, a professor of economics at the University of Texas at El Paso. “Unnecessarily.”

Already, the uncertain future of NAFTA and the protectionist outlook of the Trump administration has hurt investment on the Mexican side of the border and threatens economic growth in El Paso, business and development officials said. A 2011 study by the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas found that each 10 percent increase in manufacturing output in Juarez boosted transportation employment in El Paso by more than 5 percent.

RECENT NEGOTIATIONS: NAFTA talks conclude in Montreal with signs of progress and risk

“People forget these economies are truly integrated,” said Cindy Ramos Davidson, chief executive of the El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. “If NAFTA isn’t renegotiated, you’ve broken a relationship.”

Viewed from an airplane or the mountains that surround El Paso and Juarez, rows of low-level buildings dot each side of the border: automotive, electrical products and aerospace manufacturing plants on the Mexican side, warehouses to store goods on the other.

Both cities have prospered. In 2017, Juarez manufacturers increased employment by nearly 5 percent or 13,000 workers, many of whom spend part of their paychecks in El Paso. Mexicans crossing the border on foot – about 18,000 a day – spend about $2 billion a year in El Paso, supporting some 40,000 jobs, according to the Texas Comptroller.

Shoppers walk along El Paso Street outside the collection of shops on the United States side of the border on Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2018, in El Paso, Texas. ( Brett Coomer / Houston Chronicle ) Photo: Brett Coomer/Houston Chronicle


Photo: Brett Coomer/Houston Chronicle


Shoppers walk along El Paso Street outside the collection of shops on the United States side of the border on Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2018, in El Paso, Texas. ( Brett Coomer / Houston Chronicle )

Two industries tied to manufacturing in Juarez — business services and advanced logistics — account for about one in every three jobs in the El Paso metropolitan area, according to Workforce Solutions Borderplex. Unemployment in the El Paso area, which stood above 12 percent when NAFTA went into effect in January 1994, fell to record low of 3.8 percent in October.

“These industries will have huge growth over the next 10 years in El Paso,” said Leila Melendez, chief operating officer at the workforce development agency. “We’re really trying to focus on developing that pipeline.”

TOMLINSON: Trump tariffs will cost American jobs

At Erives Enterprises, however, executives worry the gains from cross-border trade could diminish quickly. The company’s revenues jumped by about one-third last year, but Ponce, the sales manager, recently received idea of how fragile that business is when the Trump administration announced steep tariffs on imported washing machines.

The appliance maker Electrolux is Erives’ largest customer, shipping 200 truckloads of appliances, including washers, each month. If Electrolux were required to pay those tariffs, it would mean at least a 15 percent drop in monthly shipments, Ponce estimated. Fortunately for Erives, Electrolux products are exempt from the U.S. tariff, an Electrolux spokeswoman said.


Translator

To read this article in one of Houston’s most-spoken languages, click on the button below.

While Erives dodged that bullet, Ponce said, the end of NAFTA would add tariffs to a long list of products, raise prices and hurt consumer demand. That would mean fewer truckloads and fewer jobs.

“We’ve been intrinsically intertwined for hundreds of years with Mexico,” said El Paso Mayor Dee Margo. “We’d have an economic downturn, probably, if you’re increasing fees. Certainly you’d be looking at less capital investment and an impact on employment.”

Trump’s rhetoric disparaging NAFTA and Mexico itself has already hurt investment. In December 2016, shortly after the U.S. election, Santiago Medina, then a project manager at one of the world’s largest contract manufacturers, took a call from his bosses — one that likely cost jobs in Juarez and El Paso. The project he was overseeing, a $400 million factory planned for Juarez, had been canceled by his company’s U.S. client, which he declined to name.

EDITORIAL: Withdrawing from the pact would especially hurt Texas

“Everything was ready; we were ready to hire people,” said Medina, now a business development director at medical device maker Seisa in Juarez. “The contractor shut down the project because the customer was scared about the implication of investing in Mexico” after Trump’s election.

Such stories have added to local concerns about the future of NAFTA. K. Allen Russell, chief executive of El Paso manufacturing company Tecma, said he has heard of several large projects getting delayed or scrapped over the past year because of the uncertainty of U.S. trade policy. “We hear that everyday,” he said.

U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Laredo, said many companies and trade groups initially thought Trump’s anti-NAFTA rhetoric was just political posturing. But now they are beginning to doubt a deal will get done as negotiations have dragged into 2018. “Behind the scenes, they’re starting to get a little worried,” Cuellar said.

Since the early days of his campaign, Trump has railed against NAFTA, calling it “one of the worst things to ever happen to the (U.S.) manufacturing industry.” That became a rallying cry for Trump in states like Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Indiana, where the loss of manufacturing jobs over four decades has hit the hardest.

“You go to New England, you go to Ohio, Pennsylvania, anywhere you want,” Trump said in a debate with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, “and you will see devastation, where manufacturing is down 30, 40, sometimes 50 percent.”

Indeed, the first few years after the trade agreement took effect were rocky ones for El Paso. The border city, once famous for its boots and jeans makers, lost more than 25,000 manufacturing jobs.

GRIEDER: NAFTA is good for Texas. Withdrawing from it wouldn’t be.

But economists say it’s difficult to weigh the costs of NAFTA against its benefits. The costs are often obvious, tallied by a count of shuttered plants and lost jobs. But benefits are harder to quantify as they spread among millions of consumers who can afford a better standard of living because of lower prices for household goods, said Roberto Coronado, vice president in charge at the Dallas Fed’s El Paso branch.

One thing that is quantifiable, however, is how trade with Mexico benefits partners in the United States. For every $1 in products that the United States imports from Mexico, 40 cents of the content come from components made in the United States. Compare that with the 4 cents of U.S. content that comes with each dollar the nation imports from China, Coronado said.

“Seventy-five percent of the stuff we bring from Mexico is intermediate goods,” he said, “and that means it’s stuff that goes back and forth.”

For example, when El Paso manufacturer MFI International makes a mattress, it buys materials like zippers and threads in the United States, and gathers them for the first round of design, cutting and stitching in El Paso. Then it sends the mattress to its plant in Juarez for further assembly, trucks it back to El Paso and ships it somewhere in the United States.

Manuel Gomez builds shipping containers at American Packging and Supply, Inc., on Thursday, Feb. 1, 2018, in El Paso, Texas. ( Brett Coomer / Houston Chronicle ) Photo: Brett Coomer/Houston Chronicle


Photo: Brett Coomer/Houston Chronicle


Manuel Gomez builds shipping containers at American Packging and Supply, Inc., on Thursday, Feb. 1, 2018, in El Paso, Texas. ( Brett Coomer / Houston Chronicle )

MFI employs 600 workers, split between plants in El Paso and Juarez.

“The jobs I provide at my plant in the United States,” said Cecilia Levine, chief executive of MFI, “are related to the ones I provide in Mexico.”

In 2015, the most recent data available, trucks carrying manufactured goods crossed the border at El Paso 760,000 times, contributing to economic activity that supported roughly 130,000 jobs in Texas, according to the Texas Comptroller. El Paso, the second-largest port of entry between the United States and Mexico, exported $24.6 billion in goods last year.

Trade was the economic engine that pulled Nicole Grado’s El Paso packaging company out of a financial tailspin when U.S. economy slowed after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

American Packaging, the business Grado started with her father 17 years ago, was strapped for cash. For a time, Grado didn’t think her company would be able to repay its $100,000 Small Business Administration loan.

But after a six-month rough patch, orders for packaging started rolling in as Mexican manufacturers revved up. Alongside the maquiladoras, American Packaging has grown almost every year since, distributing custom and commodity packaging from El Paso and employing nine workers.

The company occupies a building that once housed seamstresses sewing and cutting garments, replacing at least some of jobs that moved offshore with the apparel industry.

Those jobs, though, didn’t shift to Mexico; they went to China.



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HISPANIC (B)

2018 Forty Under 40: Kiamesha-Sylvia G. Colom

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colomPartner
Benesch Friedlander Coplan & Aronoff LLP

Age: 37

Birthplace/hometown: Bronx, New York

Family: husband, Joseph; children, Ysabella, 6; and Seraphina, 3

Education: bachelor’s from Manhattanville College with a dual major in psychology and political science, master’s in education from Mercy College, law degree from Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law 

Years with firm: 6

Getting here: With a New York City police officer for a mom, Colom knew she’d go to law school. But she first took a job at Teach for America in New York, where she learned skills that have come in handy as a lawyer: learning to “be organized and think on your toes … being able to adjust and adapt.” Frustrated with the bureaucracy in teaching (she was reprimanded for teaching from The New York Times instead of approved textbooks), she accepted an IU recruiter’s offer to waive the law school application fee and landed in Indianapolis. She summered at Barnes & Thornburg, where she worked after graduation, followed by a stint at Coleman Stevenson & Montel, where she shifted focus to transactional law. 

Transitional moments: The births of her daughters. “Children don’t care about your job. They don’t care if you’re sick. They just want you to be there. Being a mother has brought me focus and bolstered my drive to succeed. I want them to be inspired by me.”  

Major achievements: Making partner the first year she was eligible. “It was following a year that was particularly grueling due to a difficult pregnancy and a maternity leave that left me caring for my newborn daughter while working on client matters that only I could handle.” 

Givebacks: Colom has served on the finance and individual gifts committees of the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra board as well as on the board of La Plaza (where she is chairwoman) and The Milk Bank. She also volunteers at The Holy Family Homeless Shelter and was on the pro bono executive steering committee of the Indianapolis Bar Association. Her community involvement also includes co-leading a Girl Scout troop, serving on the Mayor’s Cultural Advisory Council, as committee chairwoman for IndyCREW, and working on the governance committee for the Indy Chamber—Hispanic Business Council. “Gandhi’s quote ‘Be the change that you wish to see in the world’ is important to me,” she said.•


Check out more 2018 Forty Under 40 honorees.



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HISPANIC (B)

Rosa Ruiz-Bunker Joins TD Bank as Store Manager in Orlando

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Rosa Ruiz-Bunker Joins TD Bank as Store Manager in Orlando

TD Bank, America’s Most Convenient Bank, provides customers with a full range of financial products and services at 1,300 convenient locations from Maine to Florida

ORLANDO (February 9, 2018) – TD Bank, America’s Most Convenient Bank®, has named Rosa M. Ruiz-Bunker as Assistant Vice President, Store Manager of the Orlando location at 1701 S Semoran Boulevard in Orlando, Fla. She is responsible for new business development, consumer and business lending, managing personnel and overseeing the day-to-day operations at the store serving customers across Orange and Seminole counties.

Rosa Ruiz-Bunker, new Store Manager at TD Bank in Orlando.

Ruiz-Bunker has 18 years of banking experience. Prior to joining TD Bank, she served as a Branch Manager at Harbor Community Bank in Altamonte Springs, Fla. Before that, Ruiz-Bunker worked for more than a decade at Banco Popular in Orlando and in San Juan, Puerto Rico as an Assistant Branch Manager, Bank Consultant and Head Teller.

Ruiz-Bunker is a member of the Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce, Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Hispanic American Professional & Business Women’s Association (HAPBWA) and Toastmasters.

A resident of Casselberry, Fla., Ruiz-Bunker holds a Master’s in Human Resources and a bachelor’s degree in marketing and business administration from the Universidad de Puerto Rico. She grew up in San Juan, Puerto Rico

About TD Bank, America’s Most Convenient Bank®

TD Bank, America’s Most Convenient Bank, is one of the 10 largest banks in the U.S., providing more than 9 million customers with a full range of retail, small business and commercial banking products and services at more than 1,200 convenient locations throughout the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, Metro D.C., the Carolinas and Florida. In addition, TD Bank and its subsidiaries offer customized private banking and wealth management services through TD Wealth®, and vehicle financing and dealer commercial services through TD Auto Finance. TD Bank is headquartered in Cherry Hill, N.J. To learn more, visit www.tdbank.com. Find TD Bank on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TDBank and on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TDBank_US.

TD Bank, America’s Most Convenient Bank, is a member of TD Bank Group and a subsidiary of The Toronto-Dominion Bank of Toronto, Canada, a top 10 financial services company in North America. The Toronto-Dominion Bank trades on the New York and Toronto stock exchanges under the ticker symbol “TD”. To learn more, visit www.td.com.

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HISPANIC (B)

Nuestra Comunidad: Local Hispanic women crochet for a cause

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Ladies of Crochet is a group of Hispanic women in Atlanta who gather every Tuesday in January to make and donate hats for babies who are born with heart problems in the month of February. The project is headed by Marcy Ramos, a Mexican entrepreneur who also offers sewing and crocheting classes to groups of women throughout the rest of the year.

“There are 10 of us in the group. Last September we began knitting for babies who suffer from shaken baby syndrome, and thank God we made 365 hats,” said Ramos.

Her work with this project led to an interest in collaborating with the American Heart Association and The Children’s Heart Foundation. Every year, both organizations seek out individuals who can knit red hats for babies born in February. The hats help to send a message to parents, to empower them to live heart healthy lives and to help their children do the same, according to AHA.

Ramos has participated for almost a year with the “Little Hats, Big Hearts” project, which is offered throughout the country. Her desire to help extends to her group of students.

“Today we’re making hats for babies with heart conditions, and we meet every Tuesday in this bakery for three hours. They send me an address, and the whole group starts working, then we send it to the hospital,” said Ramos. “Other times we have sent them to Ohio. We take care of the shipping costs ourselves.”

Some of the women even knit at home, in their spare time, added Ramos, who insists that the project is a group effort of women who hail from all over Latin America.

“Colombians, Salvadorans, Mexicans … we have learned from each other how to come together and help one another,” assured Ramos.

The women also collaborate on other projects.

“About three years ago I got the idea to make hats for women with cancer. I went to a cancer prevention walk, and I realized there weren’t very many Latinas. So, with my little group of friends and students, I started reaching out to more women to come together. From there we made sashes and we handed them out at the walk,” said Ramos.

The group also works with programs which serve the elderly and children with financial needs.

“We just donated 50 hats to low-income children, and it was very exciting, because we donated toys, but they were more interested in the hats, to stay warm. It’s very rewarding, because when I tell my knitting group that we are going to make hats for a cause, they go to work and are enthusiastic,” explained Ramos.

Ramos’s husband even helps with the initiative. “He keeps a bag of hats in his car, and he gives them to people who might be cold and need one,” she said.

Ramos, who resigned from her regular job eight years ago to start a business and dedicate herself full time to knitting, said that the time she spends knitting with her group is therapeutic and helps her to develop meaningful relationships.

“It helped me to relax, to focus on something, more than anything else. It was like therapy for me,” said Esther Moreno, a Mexican woman who has known Ramos for two decades. .

For Claudia López, also from Mexico, the feeling is mutual.

“I was drawn to knitting. I’m not that great at it, but I love doing it, because it’s a ‘destresser.’ I can relax and learn. I come to spend time with Marcy and my friends. I love it,” she said.

Each Saturday look for a feature story from our media partners at Mundo Hispanico that highlights an aspect of the Hispanic community. For a closer look at its content, go to www.mundohispanico.com or contact editors and reporters directly at 404-881-0441.



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