Hispanic business leaders counter 'bashing' with economic dataCindy • Jun 29, 2016
"We want to make sure that Houstonians understand that Hispanics are spending billions of dollars in this city," added Laura Murillo, president and CEO of the Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
Consumer spending among Houston's Hispanics increased 44 percent to $52.75 billion in 2014 and is expected to top $175 billion by 2034, according to data presented by Mitzi Fleissner, research director for Telemundo Houston.
Figures like that represent opportunity for Houston companies, especially those with employees who speak Spanish. Fleissner said some 70 percent of the city's Hispanic households prefer speaking in Spanish.
"Businesses that are speaking to and offering services to Hispanic consumers in their language of preference have a unique opportunity for growth," she said.
These and other data points, ranging from home-ownership rates to voting patterns, were discussed during the inaugural Hispanic Houston Impact Summit. The event was presented by the Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Houston Business Journal and Telemundo Houston.
With so much of the current political debate having an anti-Hispanic or anti-immigrant edge, Murillo wanted to present a more positive image.
"We stand today before you to make sure that you hear the other side of the Latino experience and story with data and research," she told the audience. "Every day in the media, we hear the rhetoric. We hear the bashing. We are targets. And the Houston Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is here to say that we will not tolerate it."
One chamber member creating jobs and contributing to the economy is Bayside Printing, which Rose Mary Bundscho helped start in 1973 with a printing press in her garage. The first five years were a struggle - a warning she often gives fledgling business owners - but they marked the beginning of a long and rewarding entrepreneurial journey.
Over 25 years, Bayside Printing expanded to the building adjacent to Bundscho's garage, and then her house after the family moved. In 1998, the once-mom-and-pop shop bought 2.5 acres and built a 25,000-square-foot building. Bundscho now employs about 30 people, a number that can double during busy times, to print books, magazines, marketing materials, business cards and other products.
"It has been a very exciting journey," said Bundscho, who is of Mexican heritage. "To be successful and see your hard work pay off, it's all been very rewarding."
The best part about owning a business, she said, is working with employees: watching them grow in their careers, helping them support families, watching them work hard to send their children to college.
"Seeing people grow and helping be a little part of it, that's my favorite part," she said.
The latest Census figures show Harris County is 42 percent Hispanic. Throughout Houston, the group is wielding an increasingly strong purchasing power. Hispanics spent $6.1 billion on groceries, $4.2 billion dining out, $3 billion on health care and $2.4 billion on clothes in 2014, Fleissner showed in her presentation Wednesday.
Banking presents a particularly strong growth segment as Hispanic adult households are more likely than other groups to not use a bank or credit union, she said.
"It represents an opportunity for banks or credit unions to reach out to these individuals," Fleissner said.
Murillo also lamented the lack of Hispanics on companies' board of directors. She said boards should reflect local diversity, even noting that 40 percent of directors on the chamber's board are not Hispanic.
This is also a problem in the political sphere, she said, and the event likewise highlighted the importance of voting.
The event featured opportunities for people to register to vote.
"We urge you not to leave here today without registering to vote," she said. "That is very important."
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