Census reports steady Hispanic-owned business growth - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Census reports steady Hispanic-owned business growth

March 21, 2006

Albany-- The business climate is warming up for Hispanics. Census statistics show the number of Hispanic-owned businesses tripled in five years. The rate is growing faster in Georgia than almost anywhere else in the country.

Ramiro Alvarez is cashing in on a successful business in Downtown Albany, something he says isn't easy. "It's been challenging," says Alvarez, "Keeping the business afloat."

It's still afloat after a year. He just passed his anniversary this month as owner of San Joe's Mexican Grill but owning a business has been a dream for years. "Back in '99 my cousin called me up. We grew up together so we're like brothers and he called me up to see if we could give it a shot and we did and here we are," says Alvarez.

And where he is, many other Hispanic entrepreneurs are as well, standing in the product of their hard work. He feels the state of Georgia has been a great place for many to start a business. "Not just restaurants. There were convenience stores, art crafts, department stores," says Alvarez.

According to the Census, Hispanics owned nearly 1.6 million businesses in 2002, up 31 percent from 1997.

"Want a piece of the American dream," says Alvarez.

For more Hispanics to live that dream, Ramiro hopes the United States continues to stand behind their efforts. "It'll help support us in the future businesswise," says Alvarez.

For this business in Downtown Albany, Ramiro continues to wear many hats. "Pretty much a little bit of everything, serve food, cashier, host, dishwasher when needed, help cook," says Alvarez.

Many duties that will lead him to his ultimate dream. "To own a couple more and not be in them. That would be a good thing," says Alvarez.

Dream businesses are growing fast, almost as fast as the food leaves the San Joe's Grill.

Only New York and Rhode Island had a higher rate of hispanic business growth than Georgia.

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