Hispanic businesses see 70 percent growth in Arizona over the last decade

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A new report shows a large increase in Hispanic-owned businesses in Arizona, particularly with businesses owned by Hispanic women.

The Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (AHCC) released its DATOS: The State of Arizona’s Hispanic Market for 2017, which found what AHCC Vice President Monica Villalobos believes to be strong evidence of the Latino community’s purchasing power in Arizona’s economy. Villalobos also said the report was focused on using data debunk myths surrounding the Hispanic community in the state.

Jose A. Cardenas: You are watching Horizonte on Arizona PBS. Coming up next, a new report detailing the Hispanic buying power in Arizona.

Here at "Horizonte" we want to hear from you. If you have comments, story ideas or questions e-mail us at [email protected].

Jose A. Cardenas: According to the 2017 datos: State of Arizona's Hispanic Market Report showed the US Latino population growth rate slowing down, but still revealed increases in Hispanic purchasing power and new businesses starting up. Joining me to talk about this is Monica Villalobos, Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Vice President. And Tony Valdovinos, a Hispanic business entrepreneur, owner of la machine.

Jose A. Cardenas: Monica, 21st year of datos. What is different this year?

Monica Villalobos: It is a coming of age story of not only showing the demographics and purchasing power but focused on debunking myths that are prevalent in the population and being able to show the data behind how we disprove those.

Jose A. Cardenas: Any big changes in the data from last year or several years to now? We talked in the intro about the fact the economy slowed down but that is not the case with the Latino market.

Monica Villalobos: We see increasing growth in businesses between 2007-2015. We saw a 70% growth in Hispanic businesses in Arizona. 116% among women. Whereas, the rest of the business population only grew about 2%. While there was the recession and down turn, Hispanic businesses continue to grow as did Hispanic purchasing power both in Arizona and nationally.

Jose A. Cardenas: Tony, one of the areas of focus for datos was entrepreneurship in the community. You are an example of that. Tell us about your business and how it has grown over the last several years.

Tony Valdovinos: Absolutely. I started in 2014 not as a business but as an idea and a core mission for us Latinos to move forward in the state. You know, our core mission has been not only to elect more Latinos into office but people of diversity to really reflect our communities. You could look at any data that shows voting records and unfortunately our communities are not representative. But the power and votes are there. What we focus on is engaging people. We go to people's homes, talk to them about the candidates, the issues, do educational voting and empower people to take back representation all the way from school board to congress. We focus on serving the Latino community to understand who is running for them and either why they should vote for them. It is a model of accountability as well.

Jose A. Cardenas: Datos is intended to educate the Latino community but also the business community at large about what the needs are and how they might service them. How does something like datos benefit a business like yours?

Tony Valdovinos: It is an incredible recognition especially from the community of people who have been previously recognized by datos. It portrays a story that fights back the narrative that Latinos are taking jobs. That immigrants are taking jobs. It goes to the contrary we are creating jobs. We are innovating new ways of doing business. The economy here is growing. We just became fifth largest city in the united states a couple weeks back. It is an incredible recognition but really fights back the narrative that has been pushed across the country that immigrants are taking jobs.

Jose A. Cardenas: Tony was getting at the myths you were talking about. Let's run through a few of those.

Monica Villalobos: Myth number one is that 20% of Americans believe that immigrants enter the United States illegally. The truth is the majority of undocumented immigrants in the United States are actually overstays. They were vetted. They came in with either a work visa or a student or tourist visa and overstayed that visa. With that in mind, the culprit with the most overstays is actually Canada so perhaps we need to keep an eye on the northern border instead of the southern border.

Jose A. Cardenas: Was that one of the recommendations?

Monica Villalobos: Yes, watch the Canadians.

Jose A. Cardenas: and there were three other major myths.

Monica Villalobos: One of the other myths was 44% of Americans believe immigrants increase crime. What we know is only a fifth of undocumented immigrants make up the prison population in the United States. And of those 66% that are incarcerated their greatest crime is being an immigrant. They are actually in prison because of immigration issue as opposed to a violent crime or a drug issue. The other myth that we encountered was that 62% of Americans believe that immigrants do not contribute or pay taxes. We know that is not true. The state government has told us -- I am sorry, the federal government has told us undocumented immigrants contribute almost 12 billion -- undocumented -- into the US economy in taxes. And on average, undocumented immigrants pay an 8% tax rate whereas most Americans pay about 5.4% tax rate.

Jose A. Cardenas: And one of the other myths went to the question of whether immigrants are sucking money out of the economy and sending it all back home.

Monica Villalobos: Myth number four was that immigrants come here, make all of this money and send it all back home. We know that is not true for two reasons. One Hispanics and immigrants in this country over index in virtually every spending category whether we are talking automobiles or clothing Latinos are spending more than the rest of the population. They are only spending about 13% of their income back to their country of origin. We also found out the person they are sending that money to the most is their mothers. So we want the citizenry that believes 13% of their income should go to their mother.

Jose A. Cardenas: Tony, how much money are you sending to your mom?

Tony Valdovinos: Definitely more than 13%. No, no.

Jose A. Cardenas: More seriously, you are an american and in many ways exlimpify all the points. Tell us about your story.

Tony Valdovinos: I was born in Mexico and through my mother's leadership we ended up into the United States. My mom did a lot of work in the '80s in Las Angeles and wanted to come and move me and my older brother forward. We landed here in Phoenix and we never moved more than a mile apart. I spent my entire life doing construction.

Jose A. Cardenas: And you were undocumented?

Tony Valdovinos: By the age of 13, we were digging holes and doing demolition and jackhammers. We were just working. My father was a general contractor.

Jose A. Cardenas: And then you tried to go to college. And prop 300 comes in and --

Tony Valdovinos: I didn't want to go to college. Where -- I wanted to join the marines and when I tried to join is when I found out I was undocumented because I was rejected. School was the only option at that point. The big thing is my mom wanted us to go to school and two years in the college doing six credits at a time prop 300 got increased behind closed doors and overnight we were paying $600 in cash and now paying --

Jose A. Cardenas: And then DACA comes along and changes your life.

Tony Valdovinos: Absolutely changed my life. We were campaigning in 2012 and the announcement came in that DACA was a program and it changed -- it absolutely changed my life.

Jose A. Cardenas: It made it legal for you to work.

Tony Valdovinos: It did and my first job was field director for council woman now Giago and she gave me my first opportunity to work in the United States and we were working to get her Latinos to be informed about elections. It was a fantastic year. But it really meant safety for the first time we felt --

Jose A. Cardenas: Now you are in danger of losing that. Monica, I know you don't take political positions but this is an example of the benefits immigrants bring to the country.

Monica Villalobos: Absolutely. This year's theme was the contribution of immigrants. I don't see it as a political statement as much as a contribution statement. When we look at our profit and loss in this country, immigrants are assets and productive con trib -- contributors to the economy. They embody the business owner and somebody who has the most to lose but still contributing to the economy and is a business owner and is willing to contribute for the one he considers this country.

Jose A. Cardenas: 440 pages of information.

Monica Villalobos: Yes.

Jose A. Cardenas: And you have one coming up in Tucson?

Monica Villalobos: Zero amount of sleep, 444 pages. We had the event from the author of Latino GDP and Dan Wallace from the new economy. We will have another if anyone missed this one in phoenix in Tucson.

Jose A. Cardenas: thank you so much for joining us to talk about it. That is our show tonight. I am Jose Cardenas. Thank you so much for joining us and have a good evening.

Monica Villalobos: Vice President, Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

Tony Valdovinos: Founder, La Machine

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