Filipino American Sonny Vinuya (center), president of the Las Vegas Asian Chamber of Commerce, shares small business highlights under the Trump administration during a roundtable discussion on Tuesday, August 20 alongside former Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt (right) and other business owners in the city. Tuesday’s event is part of a nationwide business tour organized by the Republican National Committee. | AJPress photo by Robert Macabagdal

DESPITE reports of an impending recession going into 2020, several Asian American and Pacific Islanders in Las Vegas argue that their businesses have been strong since President Donald Trump took office.

Members of the Las Vegas Asian Chamber of Commerce, together with former Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt, led a roundtable discussion on Tuesday, August 20 to share how the current administration’s policies have been beneficial for them.

“We are here to discuss the great economic successes of Nevada and our great country and we want to hear real life stories from businesses across the valley about how President Trump’s economic policies have allowed you all to grow and expand and be successful businesses,” Laxalt told chamber members at the meeting, touting 117,000 new jobs that have been created since 2017.

The Silver State is reportedly experiencing the fastest job growth rate in the United States for the 10th straight month. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate is 4.1%, nearly cut in half since Trump first took office when the rate was around 8%.

“A lot of businesses found it difficult to take risks or to take on another employee because you didn’t know if some regulation was going to strangle your business,” Laxalt added. “The president has cut more regulations on business than any other president, and we’re all very grateful for that.”

Filipino American Sonny Vinuya, president of the chamber, cited that at least 21,000 businesses in the state are AAPI-owned. About 300 alone are stretched across Las Vegas’ Chinatown.

“Small business confidence is up as more people are opening businesses and a lot of that has to do with the policies that we have now,” Vinuya asserted, giving the House GOP tax plan as a reason behind business expansion.

Jan-Ie Low, managing partner of SATAY Thai Bistro & Bar, shared how she and her brother dipped into their 401(k)s to keep the restaurant afloat since starting in 2005. Money had been so tight that they couldn’t afford to hire maintenance workers and relied on makeshift repairs done by Low’s brother.

“Under the Trump administration, we’ve been so blessed,” Low said. “For the first time this year, we are able to give bonuses to my staff…When we do well, we like to share the wealth.”

She said with the profits, she is putting them toward renovating the restaurant and hiring more employees. However, she said, “my only challenge is hiring staff because everyone is working.”

Las Vegas Asian Chamber of Commerce (LVACC) director and former McDonald’s franchise owner Bill Wong, Julie Walburn, LVACC President Sonny Vinuya, former Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt, restaurant owner Jan-Ie Low, Evolve President Gina Chen, Dr. Sonny Ho, and ACC Board member Christine Rockwell. | AJPress photo by Robert Macabagdal

Presidents historically have been reelected if the economy thrives under their tenure, and the economy under the Trump administration has experienced significant growth, especially in the areas of job creation and business sustainability.

According to economic forecasters, the signs for an eventual economic recession are glaring. On Wednesday, August 14, the Dow Jones Industrial Average fell by 800 points, making it the worst day in 2019. The U.S. is on the brink of a trade war with China after Trump accused Beijing, who delayed talks until after the 2020 election, of preferring to negotiate with a Democratic president.

There have been a number of mixed messages coming from the White House, from Trump saying on Tuesday, August 20 that he was “thinking about” a payroll tax reduction or indexing capital gains to inflation — but that it has nothing to do with a possible recession.

Trump then walked back his comments on Wednesday telling reporters on the White House lawn that he is “not looking at a tax cut now. We don’t need it. We have a strong economy.”

The group also heard from owners of a chiropractic practice, a real estate agency, a dry cleaning business, and a McDonald’s franchisee, among others.

“The one thing I have seen that goes across the lines since Trump has taken over is the word hope,”Julie Walburn, a member of the chamber, said, adding “It drives people and they don’t understand without that, it’s hard to keep going. So now, we have to keep that momentum going and keep the Trump rules in effect and get rid of the regulations that were stopping people from working.”

Also co-hosted by the Nevada Republican Party and President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign, Tuesday’s discussion was part of an “open for business” tour across 17 battleground states to promote Trump’s economic record.

“President Trump and Republicans’ efforts to cut taxes and get rid of burdensome regulations have been of great benefit to Asian-Pacific American owned businesses and their employees. APA unemployment has hit record lows and wages across the board have increased for 10 straight months,” Marina Tse, Republican National Committee (RNC) director of APA media affairs, told the Asian Journal in an email.

Some of the coming events on the tour will highlight women, Hispanic, African American business owners.

With the AAPI population considered the fastest-growing group in the state and a crucial swing vote as proven in recent elections, both parties are continuing to campaign for their votes ahead of 2020. AAPIs comprise about 10 percent of the state’s electorate.

In recent months, most of the current Democratic presidential candidates, such as former Vice President Joe Biden and Senators Kamala Harris, Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker, have held meet-and-greet events and roundtables with AAPI business owners and community members. 

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