'Hispanomics' In Vallejo
Business Boom Reflects Growing Influence
By RACHEL RASKIN-ZRIHEN/Times-Herald staff writer
MINA DIAZ, right, and her two sisters own Diaz and Loera Centro Latino, one of the new Hispanic-owned businesses to crop up recently along Broadway in Vallejo. (Stacey J. Miller/Times-Herald)
Anyone doing business in Solano County might want to consider learning Spanish, or at least familiarizing themselves with Latino culture.
The influence and impact of Solano County's Latino population is rapidly growing, fueling a proliferation of Hispanic-owned and related businesses. And that trend is reflected in Vallejo.
"We've had about a half-dozen long-standing Hispanic-owned businesses as members, but in the past year, that's grown to about a dozen," said Vallejo Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Rick Wells. "We're seeing increasing influence in the local business community and the local market."
The types of businesses owned by and/or catering to Vallejo's Latino community vary widely, Wells said. "We have everything from brick-and-mortar retail to services to restaurants. It covers a number of business categories," he added.
Solano Hispanic Chamber of Commerce President Guido Minaya refers to the trend as "Hispanomics" - a term he said was coined in the mid-1980s, when a growing influence from the nation's Latino population was predicted. It's now a reality, he said.
"Our analysis, completed in October, concluded there's been quite a bit of Hispanic population growth in Solano County, and about $1 billion of revenue contributed by Hispanic households annually," Minaya said.
"This has implications not only for the growth of Hispanic-owned businesses, but also in a possible shift in focus and marketing strategies for non-Hispanic-owned businesses hoping to cater to that population."
The statewide trend, which Solano County reflects, suggests that within the next 20 years, Hispanics will be the majority population segment, Minaya said.
"There are some Solano schools where the majority is already Hispanic. This will only increase," he said.
Minaya points as further evidence to the recent first-ever Spanish-language broadcast of a Democratic presidential candidate forum. Univision, which produced the broadcast, estimates that 15 million Latinos will vote in the next election, he said.
One of every five - or 21 percent - of Solano County residents is Latino, Minaya said. With an average household income of $40,000 to $50,000, it is estimated that the total disposable income of the county's Hispanic community is in the $1 billion range, making it a major market locally, he added.
Mina Diaz and her sisters, Imelda Diaz and Viviana Loera, all of Vallejo, said they're riding the trend with a business they opened on Broadway in December.
A concentration of Latino-owned enterprises has developed in the 500 block of Broadway in the past few years, Mina Diaz said. "This whole block on Broadway is Latino services, now," she said. "And it's not by coincidence. We know each other and help each other out. Many are actually related."
Diaz and Loera Central Latino is a multi-service enterprise, Mina Diaz said. "It's a satellite office of Re/Max Gold. We offer office and packing services like a mini-Kinko's, and next month we'll offer insurance services," she said.
The office also provides information on avoiding foreclosure and other services in Spanish and English, Mina Diaz said, and business is good.
"The Latino population has definitely grown in Vallejo," she said. "My family's been here since the early '70s, and it started to grow, with people bringing their families, and we see the need for services provided in their own language."
Diaz said the city's growing Hispanic population presents an opportunity.
"If you work hard, you can succeed," she said. "Vallejo's been good to us. It's a good place to raise your kids, despite what people say."
• E-mail Rachel Raskin- Zrihen at RachelZ@thnewsnet.com or call 553-6824.
MANY Hispanic-owned businesses are cropping up along Broadway at Tennessee Street in Vallejo. (Stacey J. Miller/Times-Herald)
According to the U.S. Census Bureau:
• More than 21 percent of Solano County's population was Hispanic in 2005, compared to about 35 percent statewide.
• More than 10 percent of the county's businesses were Hispanic-owned in 2002, compared to nearly 15 percent statewide.
• Statewide, the number of Hispanic-owned firms jumped by more than 91,000, or 27 percent, from 1997 to 2002.
The influence politically, economically and culturally, of the Latino population nationally and locally is growing.
• By 2011, the U.S. Hispanic economy is expected to reach $1.2 trillion. • California accounts for 27 percent of the Hispanic buying power. • In 2006, California's Hispanic population had a disposable income of $214 billion. • There are an estimated 23,000 Latino households in Solano County. • Hispanic households spend more on groceries, telephone services, major appliances, vehicles, gas, motor oil, men's and children's clothing, footwear and housing than the non-Hispanic community, despite their lower average income levels. Source: Dr. Guido Minaya, president, Solano Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, citing the University of Georgia's Selig Center for Economic Growth
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