In August 2019, Tito Garcia, his wife Miriam Guaman, and brother Miguel launched their family business, Industry Providers and Buyers LLC, a Jersey City-based company that exports laboratory equipment, cold storage containers, and other products. to customers in Puerto. Rico, the Dominican Republic and Ecuador. And – despite the challenges of the pandemic – business has boomed, with the company’s revenue nearly doubling in 2020 and 2021.
The Garcias’ success story is often experienced by Hispanic New Jersey business owners and is a reality that various state agencies continue to promote.
“Hispanics have become the largest minority in the United States and are the second fastest growing minority in the country behind Asian Americans,” shared Tim Sullivan, CEO of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA), a Trenton-based organization dedicated to implement programs and initiatives that improve quality of life, enhance economic vitality, and strengthen New Jersey’s long-term economic competitiveness.
“In the Garden State, Hispanic Americans have one of the highest rates of business ownership in the nation,” Sullivan noted. “New Jersey is home to more than 120,000 Hispanic-owned businesses, which, in turn, create thousands of jobs and tens of billions of dollars in tax revenue for the state. Notably, a Bank of America study of 2021 estimated New Jersey’s “Latino Gross Domestic Product” (associated with a larger population of individuals who are from or have training in a Latin American country) at $97 billion – the fifth largest in the United States and the one larger than the entire economic output of the state of Hawaii.
A powerful population
“2020 New Jersey Census data revealed that the Hispanic community — made up of residents whose home country language is Spanish — made up 21.6% of the state’s population, which will approach likely a number closer to 25% with under-reporting and changes from 2020 to 2022,” said Carlos Medina, president and CEO of the New Jersey State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (SHCCNJ), 33 years old, in Rutherford. “And that number will continue to grow.”
According to Medina, Hudson County and the cities of Perth Amboy, Elizabeth and Newark represent some of the most populous Hispanic enclaves in the state, “and they continue to grow as Hispanic businesses and services expand and immigrants move in. feel comfortable in these areas”. While food and hospitality are among the most popular sectors represented by Hispanic-owned businesses in New Jersey, “Hispanic businesses really span all industries,” Medina said.
If it wasn’t already clear that Hispanics are helping to fuel New Jersey’s economy, Medina shared further proof that they are a force to be reckoned with. “Studies confirm that Hispanics are building businesses two to four times faster than others on Main Street USA,” he said. “In 2009, when so many Main Street businesses closed in response to the distress of the recession, the Hispanic-owned business community grew and ultimately helped pull the country out of the 2009 recession. .
“Hispanic populations continue to grow in areas close to major cities, like New York and Philadelphia,” Medina added of demographic shifts occurring in metropolitan areas. “At the end of the day, the United States faces a labor shortage, and Hispanics are dependable, hardworking employees and savvy business owners.”
Recognizing the vital role Hispanics play statewide and as part of efforts to create a stronger, fairer, and more equitable New Jersey economy, Governor Phil Murphy and state lawmakers passed a whole-of-government approach to removing barriers to equity in accessing crucial municipal, state and federal resources for historically underserved communities.
“In support, the NJEDA plays a vital role in ensuring that minority-owned businesses that may have struggled to access capital in the past have the support they need to thrive in New Jersey” , Sullivan said. “NJEDA works with partners such as the New Jersey State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Latin American Economic Development Association to ensure business owners are aware of the resources available to them, and we also regularly contact the Spanish language media to help. spread the word about resources.
“Since March 2020, NJEDA has employed a concerted outreach strategy to ensure that businesses hardest hit by the effects of the pandemic – including minority and women-owned businesses, micro businesses and businesses communities eligible to be designated as New Jersey Opportunity Zones — were aware of our COVID-19 support programs and were willing to apply,” Sullivan said. “Thanks to our outreach efforts, approximately 30% of the 92,000 support grants totaling more than $680 million in pandemic relief have been awarded to minority and women-owned businesses.”
For these and other reasons, Sullivan said the future is bright for New Jersey’s strong Hispanic business community. “Through the Economic Recovery Act of 2020, we are developing a series of programs that will boost tax incentives, funding and grant programs that will address the ongoing economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and create a more equitable New Jersey. and inclusive. economic,” he said.
As he proudly promotes awareness of the power and influence of New Jersey’s vibrant Hispanic business community, the SHCCNJ’s Medina also hopes to dispel some long-held myths and misconceptions about the Hispanic population.
“If you attend a typical chamber of commerce event, the attendees are often largely male, and the vibe can be quite stale and procedural,” Medina said. “However, we capitalize on the outgoing personalities and social skills of Hispanics at our Hispanic Room events to forge connections with partners and customers. And Latinas attend our events in large numbers thanks to the support and security that has been developed and encouraged by New Jersey’s Hispanic business population.
For marketers, “Hispanics are historically brand loyal and our GDP numbers are growing faster than India or China, while our rising homeownership and our education level is among the highest of any group in the state,” Medina said. “While many businesses have closed during the pandemic, Hispanic-owned businesses have remained largely open and many additional and/or expanded locations.
“Overall, if you’re not betting on the success of the Hispanic business community in New Jersey, get yourself a new business advisor,” said Medina, who confirmed that the old rhetoric that Hispanics are a drag to economics is contrary to the facts. . “Hispanics are New Jersey’s largest minority group, our ‘Latino GDP’ is growing more than any global GDP, and we are over-indexed as labor market participants.”
For all of these reasons and more, Medina concluded, “we expect the C-suite, board, and ‘vendor spend’ of any New Jersey business to evolve to have strong Hispanic representation if it wants to thrive and survive in this state.”
A long moment New Jersey Advance Media/Star-Ledger Contributor Susan Bloom is an award-winning writer based in New Jersey who covers topics ranging from health and lifestyle to business, food and more..
This article originally appeared in the Spring 2022 issue of Jersey’s Best. Subscribe here for in-depth access to everything that makes the Garden State great.