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Posted January 18, 2004 by publisher in Cuban American Business

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By KARIN RIVES | New Observer

Q.—Has the Hispanic business community continued to grow, despite the slow economy?

A.—Absolutely, but it’s very tough to know how many businesses we have. ... Roughly we can talk about 10,000 to 15,000 new businesses in North Carolina every year, but it’s important to focus not on numbers, but on the trend. What’s important is that more Hispanics are willing to stay here and [that] they’re starting their own businesses.

I’ve got people here in the Triangle who came six years ago working in construction. Now they’re their running their own companies. ... A lot of them serve the Hispanic community, but many of them are also serving Americans. Hispanic people are real entrepreneurs and they are risk-takers.

Q.—How is the business climate changing for these businesses?

A.—A lot of businesses started out serving a new population. Their strength was the language barrier and their challenge today is to be competitive. Now you have American supermarkets trying to reach Latino customers. Just look at our newspaper [Que Pasa], all the large American supermarkets advertise with us. So Hispanic businesses really need to educate themselves.

A.—It’s happening, and for two reasons. ...

A.—It’s happening, and for two reasons. ... [Hispanic businesses] are competing against large supermarkets, and on the other hand, when you have people who have been here five or six years, language is no longer a problem. They can shop in large supermarkets and they are getting used to looking for good prices. So we, at the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, are trying to work with the state and the Small Business and Technology Development Centers to help these smaller Hispanic businesses develop a good business plan.

Q.—Triangle businesses say they have difficulty finding educated bilingual Latino employees. But I’m also hearing Hispanic professionals complain about being underemployed. How can that be?

A.—The problem is their legal status. Professional people, many coming from countries other than Mexico, have a lot of frustration because they’re used to working in [professional] jobs. Once they come here, they can’t. And what’s tough today is to find companies that are willing to sponsor a work visa. When you have a slow economy and companies have to lay off people, they don’t want to run the risk of sponsoring visas for foreign workers.

Q.—Wouldn’t President Bush’s guest worker proposal help them out? It would make it easier for companies to hire without having to hassle with immigration visas.

A.—Definitely. But when we talk about companies not having access to Spanish-speaking workers, the real problem we have is with the second-generation immigrants. We have a 60 percent dropout rate with Hispanic kids. So when we talk about companies not having people with the skills to link them with the market—that is the resource we need to work with.

Q.—Will Hispanic consumers grow in importance to North Carolina businesses?

A.—Hispanic buying power in North Carolina is $9 billion a year now. It’s projected to be $23 billion by 2007. When they start having their roots here, you’ll see less money going home and more money spent and invested in our state.

... We need to make sure, from an economic development point of view, to show our state to Latin American investors. Today, 70 percent of that investment money sits down in Florida.

(Federico van Gelderen is the Triangle publisher of Que Pasa, which operates a weekly newspaper and a 50,000-watt radio station at 1030 AM in Raleigh. He is also the president of the N.C. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, a Raleigh-based group with 167 members. Van Gelderen, 44, talked with staff writer Karin Rives about the growing influence of Latino consumers and businesses in North Carolina.)

  1. Follow up post #1 added on January 22, 2004 by Phil Morrow

    State Farm Insurance Company has opportunites for the entrepreneurial-minded Latino Professionals in NC. If you’re interested in learning about the opportunity to own your own business with the backing of State Farm -  a Fortune 25 company, please contact me by email or by calling (919) 789-3746.


  2. Follow up post #2 added on February 17, 2004 by Ricardo Castillo

    We are in the process of starting up a traditional Latin American Dairy Products manufacturing facility in Central Florida.  Please advise if we can benefit from your program, or provide information on other available programs.  Regards. Ricardo Castillo


  3. Follow up post #3 added on September 17, 2004 by Kenya

    I really don’t have a comment exactly, but I do have a question that I would greatly appreciate if you could answer for me.  I am trying to write a report on Hispanics, but the assignment has to be based on an online article from a journal about a dufferent culture other than my own.  Therefore, I decided to write my report on Hispanics.  The assignment is asking: How will I use this new information in my nursing profession including the cultural phenomena   1.communication 2.space 3.social organization 4.time 5.environmental control 6. Biological Variations.  I am really not sure where I can began.  I felt like just from reading this interesting article, you could probably help me with this information.  Please email me if you can help me in anyway on this report.

    Thanking you in advance,

    Kenya


  4. Follow up post #4 added on September 24, 2006 by Peter Powers

    TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN - MY BELOVED WIFE, RECENTLY DECEASED, WAS BORN IN CAMAQUEY, CUBA AND IT IS MY WISH TO HAVE HER CREMATED REMAINS RETURNED TO HER DAUGHTER IN HAVANA, CUBA.  I WOULD GREATLY APPRECIATE ANY ASSISTANCE IN HELPING ME ATTAIN THIS RESPECTFUL WISH OF HER FAMILY AND MYSELF!!  MUCHAS GRACIAS AND GOD BLESS ALL OF YOU!!!  SINCERELY - PETER


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