Hispanics lighting up entrepreneurship charts

2010-09-22T06:00:00Z Hispanics lighting up entrepreneurship chartsBy ART HOVEY / Lincoln Journal Star JournalStar.com
September 22, 2010 6:00 am  • 

New numbers released by the U.S. Census Bureau on Tuesday show strong growth among Hispanic-owned businesses in Nebraska from 2002 to 2007.

Hispanic ownership topped 3,000 in a survey of business owners in the state, a 55.6 percent gain over five years. Receipts were up from about $433.8 million to $783.5 million, an 80.6 percent increase.

The statistical measures offered in the Bureau's Hispanic-Owned Business Report run well ahead of the comparable national figures for all businesses.

"The data that's been presented is extraordinary for the United States," said David Hinson, national director of Minority Business Development and a participant in a conference call with reporters Tuesday.

"As we look at the Hispanic business community," Hinson said, "we see a community that continues to grow. Yet the true economic potential of the Hispanic business community has yet to be realized."

The Census Bureau numbers don't account for the effects of a national recession that many believe arrived in late 2007 and linger almost three years later.

But Juan Sandoval, based in Norfolk as a Hispanic business advocate, isn't surprised by a surge in activity in the be-your-own-boss category.

And Sandoval -- head of the Hispanic Business Center for the Rural Enterprise Assistance Project for the Nebraska Center for Rural Affairs -- said it's continuing even in harder times.

In Schuyler and South Sioux City, for example, where meatpacking might have been the original job magnet, he estimated the Hispanic business ownership total at 40 each.

"The numbers don't surprise me at all, because I see more Hispanics creating their own businesses and getting away from working at meat plants and other companies."

Indications of strong interest in becoming a boss also extend to training he offers across the state in such subjects as building business plans and mastering basic computer skills.

Earlier, Sandoval said, he couldn't find anybody who was interested in those opportunities. More recently, "it's amazing how many people are attending those classes, because they want to learn and they want to get away from working for somebody."

The census report puts Nebraska in a block of states with Iowa, Missouri and South Dakota that experienced relatively strong growth in total Hispanic businesses, 43.8-85.1 percent over the five years, in relation to other geographic settings.

Hector Daviu, part of the Schuyler business community since 2000, and Pat Anderson, president of the South Sioux City Area Chamber, said the trend in Nebraska matches what they've been seeing also.

"Packing plant work is so hard," said Daviu, owner-manager of a service-oriented outlet that includes tax preparing, interpreting, notarizing and more, "so they want a better life."

He estimated that as many as eight other Hispanic businesses have followed in his footsteps in the past decade, among them, grocery stores, restaurants, a liquor store and a clothing store.

"It's not a surprise to me," he said of the census numbers, "because everybody, if they have some money, they do want some kind of business."

Anderson said she's "very pleased" that many of the Hispanic businesses springing up there are joining the chamber.

Since some don't join, she didn't want to assign a number to overall growth at the local level. "But as far as new businesses forming, starting, yes, I do see that."

Reach Art Hovey at 402-473-7223 or at ahovey@journalstar.com.

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