Hispanic business booms

The number of Hispanic-owned businesses nationwide is growing rapidly, and Connecticut is no exception.

According to a report released by the Census Bureau Tuesday, the number of Hispanic-owned businesses in Connecticut grew 43 percent between 1997 and 2002. The growth rate, which is the sixth-highest in the nation, exceeded the national average by 12 percent. Hispanic businesses in many other states have also seen a boom in the last decade. Between 1997 and 2002, nearby New York state had the most dramatic increase in Hispanic businesses in the nation at a rate of 57 percent, and Hispanic businesses grew at a rate of 31 percent nationwide — three times the national average for all business, the report said.

U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce President Michael Barrera said the high growth rate for Hispanic businesses nationwide is due to a booming Hispanic population. The Hispanic population in the U.S. is relatively young — half the population is under the age of 27 — and as the younger generation grows to adulthood, even more Hispanic businesses will sprout up, Barrera said.

“As the youth start to gain the entrepreneurial spirit, you’re going to see a growing influence of Hispanic-owned business in the country as it continues to expand,” he said.

New Haven has also seen the effects of this trend, Yale Vice President of New Haven and State Affairs Michael Morand said. Many local communities have seen substantial growth in Hispanic populations, and the demographic shifts have been followed by an increasingly vibrant business community, he said.

“If you look at Fair Haven, there is a dynamism there that is indicative of the vitality of Hispanic business,” Morand said. “It’s … seen strong population growth, and that growth in population and business is terrific for the entire community. I think it’s a classic and fantastic American story.”

Census Bureau director Louis Kincannon said the growth of Hispanic businesses reflects the health of the American economy.

“The growth we see in Hispanic-owned businesses illustrates the changing fabric of American’s business and industry,” Kincannon said. “With Hispanic businesses among the fastest growing segments of our economy, this is a good indicator of how competitiveness is driving the American economy.”

The study was based on census records and a survey of 2.4 million businesses. Although the vast majority of Hispanic-owned business were one-person enterprises, more than 1,500 of the approximately 1.6 million Hispanic-owned firms had at least 100 employees, and those firms generated more than $42 billion in revenue between 1997 and 2002.

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