Hispanic Businesses Booming
Missouri's Hispanic population has more than doubled in the past 10 years. Now, the number of Hispanic businesses is growing, too. Columbia's small businesses add thousands of dollars to the local economy.
"I'm very happy we opened this place," said Luis Hernandez, who is one of almost 4,500 Hispanic business owners in Missouri. He and other Hispanic business people want to tap into a market that takes in more than $700 billion a year in the U.S.
"When I opened this business, there was no other like it," recalled Alejandro Sanchez. "I was the first to open it."
The U.S. Census says most new Hispanic-owned businesses are one-person operations. In Missouri, most Hispanics are in the service industry, such as restaurants or grocery stores.
"It's not easy," admitted Hernandez. "It's pretty hard, because you lose a lot of money and, you know, work and time."
Language can also be a problem, especially paperwork. But that won't stop Hernandez.
"When you start, you never want to, you can't go back," he said.
Missouri's Department of Economic Development is also helping small businesses get started, through its Commission on Hispanic Affairs.