Highlighting Hispanic and Latino Entrepreneurship
In recognition of the achievements, contributions, and history of Hispanic-Americans and Latinos in the United States, September 15th through October 15th signifies National Hispanic Heritage Month. Burlington Economic Development wants to recognize Latino and Hispanic entrepreneurship throughout North Carolina, and how both foreign-born and US-born Hispanic populations hold an essential role within the business community today. Below is a brief history of Hispanic Heritage Month, statistics on North Carolina’s Hispanic population, and its interaction with entrepreneurship and local business here in Burlington.
Hispanic Heritage Month
Hispanic Heritage Month is a month of recognition for the ancestors of American citizens who came from Mexico, Spain, the Caribbean, South America, and Central America. The commemoration was introduced by Congressman George E. Brown in 1968, in the midst of the civil rights movement in the United States, to recognize the contribution of the Latino community throughout American history. It started as a commemorative week, but officially became the commemorative month it is today after 1989.
The timing of the Month – the latter half of September and the beginning of October – signifies the independence anniversary of for several Latin American countries. September 15th is the independence day for El Salvador, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and Honduras. The extension of the commemoration later included the independence days of Mexico (September 16th), Chile (September 18th), and Belize (September 21st).
Hispanic Americans in Business
Hispanic Americans have been an essential part of the prosperity of the United States. According to the 2020 Census, the US Hispanic population has reached 62.1 million, which is a 23% increase from 2010. Since 2010, Hispanics have accounted for more than half of the total US population growth, accounting for 51% of the population increase by 22.7 million, a greater share than any other racial or ethnic group.
Nationally, here are the facts:
- Nearly 1 in 4 new businesses in the US are Hispanic-owned.
- The almost 5 million Hispanic-owned businesses in the US contribute more than $800 billion to the American economy annually.
- Hispanic employer businesses employ around 1 million workers, with more than $100 billion in annual payroll.
- The number of Hispanic-owned businesses that employ at least one employee other than the owner increased by 14% between 2012 and 2017 – more than twice as fast as the national average.
- In the decade preceding the pandemic, the number of Hispanic business owners increased 34% compared to an increase of 1% among non-Hispanic business owners.
Additionally, a 2021 US Bureau of Labor Statistics report specified that Hispanics and Latinos make up 18% of the total labor force. Annual averages of employed Hispanics and Latinos by industry are predominantly participating in leisure and hospitality (17.3%), wholesale and retail trade (13.5%), and construction (12.5%). In 2014, the Hispanics made up 16.3% of the total labor force; by 2024, the percentage was expected to increase to 19.8%.
On the Local Level
Of the 62.1 million Hispanics and Latinos nationwide, 1.1 million live in North Carolina, according to the 2020 Census. North Carolina’s population is 10.7% Hispanic or Latino, which is just over half the national average of 18.7%. The state’s population increased by nearly 320,000 from 2010 to 2020, which is the largest numeric increase of any racial or ethnic group in the state.
Alamance County, with a total population of 173,877, has just under 24,000 (13.7%) Hispanic or Latino residents. Within the county there are over 2,000 minority owned businesses. The Hispanic-owned businesses are in a variety of markets, including restaurant, active lifestyle, automotive, retail, home services, and more.
Specifically within the City of Burlington, Hispanic and Latino residents make up 17.8% of the total city population – around 10,000 of the total 58,818 as of July 2021. With such a significant portion of the city’s population being Hispanic, it is important to empower and support the entrepreneurs, workers, and families that contribute to its economic success.
Acknowledgements & Resources
As important and exciting as it is to celebrate the successes of Hispanic entrepreneurship and labor within the country, there is still much work to be done. Though the number of Latino-owned businesses has grown 34% over the last ten years – and those businesses have grown revenues at an average 25% per year – Latino-owned employer businesses are significantly less likely to have loan applications approved by national banks, despite reporting strong metrics on a variety of key lending criteria. Only 51% of Latino-owned businesses received approval for their loans, whether partially or completely, in comparison to the 77% of White-owned businesses that were approved. Because of these financial barriers, Latin-owned businesses often use personal or business lines of credit to finance their businesses, exposing them to greater personal financial risk.
In North Carolina, there are many organizations that specifically focus on supporting Hispanic businesses. To name a few:
- Prospera (Charlotte): An economic development, non-profit organization specialized in providing bilingual (English/Spanish) assistance to Hispanic entrepreneurs trying to establish or expand their business. The organization provides counseling and training, financing, expanding, and contracting services at no cost to the entrepreneur. (visit site)
- Carolina Small Business Development Fund (Raleigh), Latino Program: A 501(c)(3) nonprofit and certified community development financial institution (CDFI) that supports small business through business loans, training, and entrepreneurial research. The Latino Program is a holistic combination of technical assistance and access to capital, to ensure clients can repay their loans and improve their credit. (visit site)
- North Carolina Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (Raleigh): A non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the progress and economic development of businesses and Hispanic professionals in the state. The NCHCC provides counseling, networking, educational services, and capital to Hispanic businesses. (visit site)
Terminology note (adapted from NC Demography): The U.S. Census Bureau introduced the term Hispanic in 1980 and this is a term preferred by some Hispanic/Latino populations. The term Latino became more commonly used in the 1990s and is preferred by others. In this blog, terms Hispanic and Latino are used interchangeably.
Isabella DeLaGarza, EYOS Fellow