Report: Number of Hispanic entrepreneurs in United States has more than tripled in past 24 years

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC 4 Utah) - A new report says the number of Hispanic entrepreneurs in the United States has more than tripled in the past 24 years and their businesses helped pull the U.S. out of the recent recession. According to the Utah Hispanic Chamber of Commerce there are now over 10,000 Lationo-owned businesses in the state of Utah.

Jorge Fierro of Salt Lake City is a great example of an immigrant success story. He was born in Mexico and came to the U.S. when he was 24 years old. His business venture started with a can of beans.

"I went to get some beans from a supermarket, canned beans," Fierro told ABC 4 News. "I was actually pretty disgusted by it."

So Jorge began selling his own pinto beans at the Downtown Farmers Market in 1997. Now 17 years later, he owns three businesses, Rico Foods, Rico Catering and Frida Bistro. The three businesses employ 85 people and bring in $4 million a year.

According to the study by the Partnership For A New Economy, the number of Hispanic entrepreneurs in the U.S. has more than tripled to 2 million, helping to propel the economic recovery.

"For Hispanics, owning a business is more a need than a want, meaning that doing business is the only way to move forward," Francisco Sotelo of the Utah Hispanic Chamber of Commerce said. "Immigrants really provide a lot of ideas, a lot of things that can really contribute to the economy. We are entrepreneurs by nature."

Proyecto Latino de Utah Director Tony Yapias has seen a lot of new Latino endeavors in his 33 years living in the Beehive State.

"Back in the 1980's it was just a small group of businesses on the Westside for example, now we have thousands of businesses along the Wasatch Front," Yapias said. "We are alive and we are not only creating new businesses but we are also contributing taxpayers and that's the most important thing."

Overall 10% of the U.S. population are entrepreneurs but among Hispanic immigrants, it's nearly 2 points higher at 11.7%. Fierro says growing up in another country provides the motivation and work ethic to succeed here.

"Immigrants don't have the opportunities that Americans do have. In my country for instance, in Mexico, if you don't work, you don't eat," Fierro said. "We're survivors, we have to truly create an income because we don't have anybody to take care of us. So either we work or we don't eat."

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