Latino Businesses Flourish In Detroit Despite Detroit's severe economic problems, it appears its Latino business community is taking off. Detroit's Mexican community has seen a 34 percent increase in small business development in just the past three years -- including dozens of new restaurants in a neighborhood known as Mexican Town.

Latino Businesses Flourish In Detroit

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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Michele Norris.


As Martina Guzman of member station WDET reports, Detroit's Hispanic businesses seem to be flourishing.

MARTINA GUZMAN: Unidentified Man: (Foreign language spoken)

GUZMAN: Mexican immigrant Norberto Garita opened one of these. He trained by making salads at other restaurants and became sous chef. Then Garita opened his own restaurant, El Barzon.

NORBERTO GARITA: (Foreign language spoken)

GUZMAN: Detroit's Latino population has more than doubled in the last 10 years. Mexicans came here in droves during the '90s and continue to trickle in. There are roughly 400,000 Latinos in Michigan. Half of them live in Detroit. Many work in construction, landscaping and the service industry, but hundreds have opened their own food-related businesses.


LYDIA GUTIERREZ: Well, this is our noise from our tortilla plant, and we love to hear this kind of music.

GUZMAN: Lydia Gutierrez says three years ago she needed more space and bought a 33,000-square-foot building here.

GUTIERREZ: The need for Mexican food products continues to grow. And demand, where at one time, 10, 15 years ago, of the Mexican foods were primarily for Mexicans, it has continued to grow because of the exodus of the people from Mexico into the United States and teaching the Americans how to eat this wonderful product, you know, these wonderful tortillas.

GUZMAN: Jim Johnson teaches economic development at the University of North Carolina and studies the Hispanic business community. He says Mexican immigrants are among the most entrepreneurial, spurring significant new business growth.

JIM JOHNSON: Even in areas and sectors of the economy where you have massive job loss, the one population that typically is growing in terms of the labor force is the Hispanic labor force.

GUZMAN: Johnson says some of the economic boom in Detroit's Hispanic community is because Latinos are good spenders.

JOHNSON: The research shows that only about 20 percent of the money goes home through remittances, so the remaining 80 percent is spent in our local economy.

GUZMAN: For NPR News, I'm Martina Guzman in Detroit.

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