One of only two Latinos currently serving in the U.S. Senate, Senator Menendez is the progeny of Cuban immigrants and grew up in a tenement building in Union City, NJ – what is known to many as the Little Havana of the North.
A product of New Jersey’s educational system from elementary through law school, he first became an elected official at only 19 years old, eventually working his way up to mayor, state senator, and eventually Congress.
Senator Menendez is now one of the country’s most powerful elected representatives and often considered one of the most influential minorities in the country.
With the economy still in a shambles, the conversation quickly turned to its recovery.
Investments in technology should be a priority according to the Senator. “We need [broadband] to be integrated into our community in every dimension,” said Menendez. “[It has the] ability to be able to drive our businesses . . . and opens the world to us.” A wider market means increased sales and better business opportunities for small businesses.
Corporate diversity has also been one of the Senator’s most important projects since releasing the Senate’s first-ever Corporate Diversity Report, but not just because diversity is the “right thing to do.”
“It’s about the bottom line,” he said pointing to the many new studies proving that greater diversity equals higher profits. As an example, AT&T has ranked highly on the Senator’s Corporate Diversity Report, and is one of the largest and most successful corporations in the world and continues to fare well even during our economic crisis.
Diversity in the telecommunications sector is also highly important to our economy and society, according to the Senator.
The Senator is a proponent of proposals such as the Incubator Program, which would allow FCC rule waivers to companies providing opportunities for diverse ownership of radio stations. “It is my hope that the FCC will make this a priority because they have rulemaking powers to provide the incentive.”
Senator Menendez further explains the need for diversification in our economy, the impact of technology on small business and minority groups, and other incentives the government can provide to enhance both.
Justin Vélez-Hagan is Senior Contributing Writer and Commentator for Politic365.com. He is also the National Executive Director of The National Puerto Rican Chamber of Commerce, an international developer of senior living facilities, and is a reservist in the U.S. Air Force. He can be reached at Justin@Politic365.com.