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The Sunshine Economy

Sunshine Economy: Business And Politics

This is the most contentious campaign season in memory, yet business goes on. Boat repairs, restaurants, banking -- you name it. Commerce continues despite the uncertainty of the election.

The economy consistently ranks as the biggest issue for most Americans. Taxes, regulations, health care, immigration even the combative tone of this election -- does the uncertainty of this election threaten to hurt or help business?

We gathered business owners and leaders to hear how business is right now (steady to great), how politics affects their business (little to none) and why economic anxiety is so high.

• Roberto Estrada, Co-Founder & CEO, HolaDoctor

• Kristy Hebert, COO, Wards Marine Electric

• Abe Ng, Founder and CEO, Sushi Maki

• Jay Pelham, President, Total Bank

• Manny Ruiz, Founder and CEO, Hispanicize Media Group

What are the economic stakes in this election?

NgAs a business we don't shape our policies by elections but certainly people do take a wait and see approach.

Hebert: Our concerns will be from a regulatory environment, from health care and workers compensation insurance. The boats that travel here are here to have service and work done by small businesses. If you impede those businesses to be able to do what they need to do through over-regulation, through duplicative, unnecessary workers compensation insurance through even EPA standards -- all sorts of things that are really unintended consequences for boats -- they become hindrances. Boats are mobile. Our clients can make a decision at any point to go someplace else and then we're instantly competing internationally for that labor.

Ruiz: I think there's going to be a very strong vote of voter turnout this year by Latinos. I think that the numbers continue to help corporations become cognizant of the Latino community probably more so than any other economic figure that you can bring.

Pelham: Just getting the election over stabilizes things regardless of who wins. We're in a very different market here in Miami. We'll definitely be impacted in some way. Miami has been a very attractive destination for flight capital for decades. That's been regardless of election cycles and who's in office. And it's not just the flight capital that you tend to think of because of being the gateway to Latin America. It's the flight capital from New York, from New Jersey.

Why the economic anxiety of voters?

Ruiz: Latinos have always been a very hardworking community. The obsession that we're seeing with immigration, as if that's the only thing that defines what Latinos care about -- it's amazing to me. Yes, we are concerned about immigration. A lot of us have family or friends that are caught in that net right now of not knowing if they're going to be able to stay or go. The reality is the Latinos are looking to move forward and they're not obsessed with what they don't have their focus on what they can get by their hard work. I think our work ethic and our character and integrity of the community can out shine whether Trump or Clinton is president.

Estrada: The Hispanic market is truly underserved. That's why we're excited about it. Once a market is mature then it depends a lot more on the economic climate. But with the Hispanic market there's so many opportunities that even if things are not going great with the economy, there are still good opportunities with corporate America. We happened to be in healthcare to help these companies monetize that market. Now, a lot more than 10 years ago, businesses understand that there's a lot of money in the Hispanic community.

Ng: If you step back and you look at what's going on in Western Europe with Brexit, I think people do feel left behind with globalization. If you talk to team members who are working at the line level or maybe slightly above that, there really is a sense of 'what else is there?’ I believe strongly in the power of business to life humanity and it's up to individual businesses to give that career path to people who are those jobs. I do hear anxiety in terms of what's going to be out a few years from, whether they're cab drivers with Uber or people that are delivering food with third party delivery companies. There's that anxiety but in terms of finding a job, at least in the hospitality industry, there's so many hotel rooms and so many restaurants that are opening, they can always find a job.

Hebert:  I think there's always a level of anxiety in business. If any small business owner hires somebody you always ask yourself, " Am I always going to be able to have work for this person?" As a third generation owner, 65 years, we've never laid off anybody.

Pelham: We've got some anxiety. We don't talk about it a lot because we're taking the right steps there.


Tom Hudson is WLRN's Senior Economics Editor and Special Correspondent.