Live from Music Row, Tuesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed CEO Alfredo Ortiz of Job Creators Network to the newsmaker line to talk about his rise from poverty, the values his parents instilled, and how the American dream is attainable for minorities despite the Democrat narrative.
Leahy: On the newsmaker line right now, our very good friend, the CEO of the Job Creator Network, Mr. Alfredo Ortiz. Welcome, Alfredo.
Ortiz: Hey, good morning, Michael. Thank you so much for having me. It’s an honor.
Leahy: It’s great to have you on. You wrote a book. Not exactly what’s going to get you on MSNBC. The title of the book is The Real Race Revolutionaries: How Minority Entrepreneurship Can Overcome America’s Racial and Economic Divides. You’ve got a personal story about your parents and how they came to America. I think that is a good starting point on this.
Ortiz: Yes, absolutely. I don’t necessarily think I’m going to be on this year’s White House Christmas list for some reason. But look, I push back on a narrative that long has been true from the left, which is basically that we need more government intervention, really, to try to break the racial and economic divide.
But I know firsthand that entrepreneurialism and capitalism really is the way to go. And if you think about the inflow of immigrants, there is no outflow of immigrants from the U.S. to other parts of the country.
It’s always inflow because they know best that this country is a land of opportunity where the American dream is possible so far if the government just gets out of the way and lowers taxes and lowers regulations.
But as I said, I know firsthand what it was like I grew up in Chula Vista, California. We were quite poor. My dad was a tailor. My mom was a housekeeper. I remember on trash days, my mom and I would pop into pop into our car, and we’d drive around and we’d get aluminum cans and newspapers and those trash cans, and we’d take it over the YMCA, cash it in, and that was her grocery money for the week.
And then to make ends meet, she would also do craft sales and bake sales. That’s why I always say that she was the first and best entrepreneur that I ever knew.
Leahy: Your parents came from Mexico City a little over 50 years ago. They’re no longer with us, but they had some values that they shared with you. Tell us about those values.
Ortiz: Yes, absolutely. The values really are hard work and the idea that, frankly, you can do anything if you have a vision and you have a belief and you have a dream. You can work hard and get there. And that was one thing that I remember.
There was a time when the USDA would hand out surplus eggs, bread, milk, and cheese to lower-income folks and our church was actually a distribution point, Michael. And we were the ones that would help receive the truck. We would set it all up, and only at the very end would we collect ours.
Because my mom always believed that if you’re an able-bodied individual, even though you might not be able to have an income, to have a life you necessarily want, and you do need some government help that you can work for that and you can contribute to society in some way, shape, or form.
Leahy: Tell us about your personal career. You grew up poor in Chula Vista, California. Your parents were legal immigrants from Mexico. How did you get into and become an entrepreneur?
Ortiz: Wow, it was quite a path. First of all, truly, I have to give credit where credit is due and thank God for the wonderful path that he laid in front of me. But of course, my mother and all of her hard work and sacrifices. But I was the first one to finish high school, the first one to finish college and grad school.
And again, those were educators that believed in me, and that helped me along the way. But then I went into the corporate world, and I worked mostly in consumer product goods, marketing, market research, finance, and consulting.
I have my own consulting firm, which was in Atlanta, and I sold that to a former Coca-Cola executive. And then I also have my own construction company in Atlanta. I had two small businesses myself, and I know exactly what it is, like I say, to sign the front of a check and the back of a check.
Leahy: In the spring of last year, you testified in the House of Representatives and the Ways and Means Committee, and you argued that minorities can in fact, overcome racial economic gaps through entrepreneurship.
The Democrats didn’t like that message. Stacey Plaskett from the U.S. Virgin Islands, a delegate there, tell us what she said about your testimony.
Ortiz: (Chuckles) Yes, it wasn’t received well at all by the Democrat members who said they were troubled by the rhetoric and claimed I was inappropriate and ignorant to actually argue that minorities can overcome their circumstances through entrepreneurship even though I was sitting right in front of them.
Leahy: So hold on. You’re a minority. You’re Hispanic.
Leahy: And so you overcame poverty through entrepreneurship. How do the Democrats call that inappropriate?
Ortiz: Inappropriate and ignorant. Please don’t forget that word ignorant.
Leahy: Look, there are a lot of words I could use to describe you, Alfredo. Ignorant is not one of them. Oh, man.
Ortiz: Michael, I tell you, I was pretty peeved, I have to tell you. And I pushed back. I asked for an apology, which I didn’t get because she claimed that she wasn’t talking about me oh, no. Even though I was the sole Republican witness at that hearing. I’m like, who else are you talking about?
So it was pretty interesting. But I was glad I pushed that back, because this is, I think, a narrative that we really have to have to keep pushing back on. It’s not just kind of a belief that I have. I got to read this piece of data.
I have a lot of data points in the book, which hopefully people go to Amazon and it’s available on Kindle and paperback. But we dug up a Congressional Black Caucus Foundation study that found that the median net worth for black business owners is 12 times higher than for black non-business owners.
In other words, black entrepreneurs more than eliminate racial income and wealth gaps, earning and saving far more than median white households. Interesting fact? Don’t you think?
Leahy: It is. Has CNN invited you on to talk about this yet?
Ortiz: No, they have not. And I have a funny feeling that they’re probably not because again, this is a narrative that they do not want to be put out there because again, they want that sense of victimhood and that reparations for the racial divide is the only way out and more government.
And so obviously this is counter to all that because this talks about entrepreneurialism capitalism, hard work, the American dream look, everything that they actually detest, we really embrace in this book. And so it’s a great read, I think, and I encourage people to go pick it up.
Listen to today’s show highlights, including this interview:
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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “Alfredo Ortiz” by Alfredo Ortiz. Photo “The Real Race Revolutionaries” by Amazon. Background Photo “Small Business” by ELEVATE.