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Posted March 16, 2005 by publisher in Cuban American Business

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Oscnewsgazette.com | Eduardo Montalvo

Almost $7 billion is the purchasing power of the Hispanic community in Central Florida. This means big business.

During last week’s Hispanic Summit, participants had the chance to learn together about the growing Hispanic community of Central Florida, and the most significant discovery was the colossal economic potential of this group that is expected to increase 19 percent by 2007, reaching $8.2 billion.

The opportunity is there waiting for those willing to take the challenge and get in touch with this growing market.

During the Hispanic Summit, we learned from the experience of Publix Super Markets that is already taking decisive actions in order to serve the Hispanic market better.

This grocery chain is going to convert its Kissimmee location into a 100 percent Hispanic store, with ethnic products, bilingual staff and information and signs in Spanish.

Some could consider this an offense to the Anglo culture and population, but the reality is that this is a very smart move from Publix. As a matter of fact, this action is going to be followed by many others, searching for the new gold mine: the Hispanic market.

Remember the golden rule: “The customer is always right.” And if the customers are asking for products and services in Spanish, guess what? That is exactly what they are going to get.

This is not about a cultural clash. It is about a new reality that we have to face. We need to be conscious about it and stop whining about the “good ol’ times” when everyone around spoke English only. Our future is bilingual.

Almost a third of the county’s population is Hispanic, and close to 40 percent within the limits of the city of Kissimmee. This is a fact.

Former residents probably see this as an invasion. TV, newspapers, signs and radio stations are changing to appeal to Hispanic listeners, viewers and readers, forming large controversy about it.

This “Hispanic Tsunami” is taking over Central Florida by assault. First it was South Florida, and now it’s our region’s turn.

Like it or not, we need to accept this situation and develop the right attitude about it. We can insist on refusing it, or we can accept it and take advantage of it.

If you are a business owner and you want to make your business grow at least 30 percent, you have to serve the Hispanic community.

Have you thought about hiring bilingual staff? What about advertising in Hispanic media? How about adding Hispanic products on your shelves?

But this is not only happening in Central Florida. Growth of the Hispanic community in America has been high. Nationally, the Hispanic population has grown by 58 percent between 1990 and 2000. According to the U.S. Census, the Hispanic population for 47 of Florida’s 67 counties doubled in the same period of time. So if you love to live in Florida, like its weather and you have been considering moving to another county to avoid Hispanics, don’t waste your time, because finding a place without them is going to be nearly impossible.

It’s hard to take, but it’s reality.

Those willing to accept this new situation will have an edge over those reluctant to do so.

It’s your decision; adapt to our new environment to succeed, or you’ll be left behind.

Eduardo Montalvo is an Osceola County real estate agent and regular contributor to Spanish language publications in Central Florida. Contact him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

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