Hispanic women account for nearly 40 percent of businesses owned by minority women in Arizona and the Valley — and the number is growing.
“The number of Latina business owners, especially in the Valley, is growing by leaps and bounds,” said Joseph Ortiz, communications director for the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
“This is significant in a traditionally male-driven culture,” he added.
Ortiz said the growth of Hispanic women businesses is just one part of a statewide and national phenomenon disclosed in a survey released Tuesday by the U.S. Census Bureau.
The report shows the growth of Hispanic-owned businesses in the United States is three times the national rate for all companies from 1997 to 2002.
Hispanics owned nearly 1.6 million businesses in 2002, a 31 percent increase from five years earlier, according to the report.
“The census bureau report doesn’t surprise us,” Ortiz said.
He noted another trend in Arizona and the Valley is the growing number of young and upwardly mobile Hispanics.
“Half of the Latinos are under the age of 25 and 70 percent under 36,” said Ortiz, who said the younger age group is also a growing source for companies that sell on the Internet.
“Companies on the Internet ought to be watching the growing buying power of this young Hispanic group,” Ortiz said.
Ortiz said the purchasing power of all Hispanic age groups in Arizona has grown from $8 billion to $21 billion over the past decade.
“Five years ago, for example, there were a dozen Hispanic-owned meat markets in the Valley,” said Ortiz.
“Today, there are more than 100. Why? The Hispanic community wants to shop at neighborhood stores, not chain stores. Hispanic meat markets are filling a need that chain stores aren’t.”
‘‘The Hispanic consumer market is exploding,’’ said Michael Barrera, president and CEO of the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. ‘‘That means that a lot of Hispanic businesses are going to benefit from that.’’
Hispanic consumers spend $700 billion a year, a figure that is expected to climb to $1 trillion by the end of the decade, Barrera said at a news conference.
The overwhelming majority of the new businesses were one-person enterprises, according to the report.
Only 13 percent of Hispanicowned businesses had any employees other than the owner. About a fourth of all U.S. businesses had employees in 2002, the report said.
New businesses started by Hispanics face many of the same problems as businesses started by non-Hispanics, and the biggest hurdle usually is money to start and expand the business, said Louis Olivas, assistant vice president for academic affairs at Arizona State University, whose students helped gather statistics for the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
‘‘All startup businesses face funding issues,’’ Olivas said.
Some Hispanic business owners also face language barriers, but those who speak both Spanish and English have advantages, he said.
The report is based on administrative records and a survey of 2.4 million businesses.
The Census Bureau defines Hispanic-owned businesses as private companies in which at least 51 percent of the owners are Hispanic. The report does not classify public companies, with publicly traded stock, because they can be owned by many stockholders of unknown ethnicities.
Among the report’s national findings:
• Nearly three in 10 Hispanic-owned firms were in construction or other servicerelated industries in 2002.
• The number of Hispanicowned businesses in New York grew by 57 percent from 1997 to 2002, faster than any other state. Rhode Island, Georgia, Nevada and South Carolina rounded out the top five.
• Los Angeles County had 188,472 Hispanic-owned businesses in 2002, more than any other county. It was followed by Miami-Dade County, Fla.; Harris County, Texas; Bronx County, N.Y.; Queens County, N.Y.; and Hidalgo County, Texas.
• There were 29,184 Hispanic-owned firms with receipts of $1 million or more in 2002.
• There were 1,510 Hispanic-owned firms with 100 or more employees. Those firms generated more than $42 billion in receipts in 2002.
• About 44 percent of Hispanic business owners were of Mexican descent in 2002.
• Hispanic households account for nearly 1 in 5 in Arizona
• Hispanics are the largest and fastest growing minority group in Arizona and the United States
• In 2004, Hispanic buying power was $686 billion in the United States. By 2009, it is expected to reach $992 billion
• Arizona has the nation’s 7th largest Hispanic population and the 4th highest percentage of the state’s buying power behind New Mexico, Texas and California