WIP Henry Cisneros

Unlocking economic opportunity for the Latino workforce in the ‘next’ economy

A conversation with Henry Cisneros, chairman & co-founder, American Triple I and former U.S. HUD Secretary

In this episode of Work in Progress, I am joined by Henry Cisneros, the chairman and co-founder of the infrastructure investment and management firm American Triple I (ATI) and the former secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development under President Bill Clinton.

I sat down with Cisneros at the Aspen Latino Business Summit in Washington, D.C. in early September.

American Triple I focuses on investments in the transportation field, in the energy field, and in social infrastructure, which means schools, higher education, hospitals, and digital.

Cisneros was at the summit to talk about unlocking economic opportunities for the Latino workforce and Latino business owners in these high-growth areas.

“I think it’s very foresighted of Aspen to create a conference focusing on the next economy, the new economy. And Latinos can be an important part of that,” Cisneros tells me.

“We know that Latinos have been locked out of the economy and are characterized by smaller businesses. Most of Latinos are employed in one-person businesses. But this is a point of inflection for the entire American economy, and it suggests that if you’ve been locked out before, you don’t have to be locked out in the new economy,” he adds.

“We’re younger than the national average. A whole lot of young people getting trained in good schools. There’s no reason why we can’t have a inordinately larger role than we’ve ever had before in the American economy as it transitions into my field of infrastructure. I can tell you, we’re at a point of inflection where the next generation of infrastructure is not going to be the same.”

Cisneros describes the next economy as tech-driven and full of possibilities.

“It’s not going to be just wider roadways. It’s going to be roadways with technology embedded in them to guide traffic. It’s not just going to be fossil fuel-generating plants and power, but it’s going to be solar and wind and hydrogen and a lot of other new fuels. It’s not going to be just traditional communications, but it’s going to be broadband into the neighborhoods that have been left out to this point. It’s not going to be just traditional airports, but fantastically different airports with space for vertical takeoff and landing aircraft with different passenger experiences.

“Everything about the country is changing. It’s one of those moments when if you can dream, if you can imagine, if you can train yourself for the future, then you can play in the new economy.”

But, says Cisneros, skills development is key to full participation in the future of work.

“There clearly does need to be a concerted effort. It would be just a terrible thing to have this moment of transition to new fields where we’re not locked out but – for lack of training, for lack of skills, for lack of preparation, for lack of knowledge – are left out again. It’s absolutely critical that the (Latino) community be able to make that transition.”

You can hear more from Henry Cisneros by listening to the podcast here. Or, you can download and listen wherever you get your podcasts.

Episode 288:  Henry Cisneros, American Triple I chairman and co-founder
Host & Executive Producer: Ramona Schindelheim, Editor-in-Chief, WorkingNation
Producer: Larry Buhl
Executive Producers: Joan Lynch and Melissa Panzer
Theme Music: Composed by Lee Rosevere and licensed under CC by 4
Download the transcript for this podcast here.
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