October 2, 2006


Small Town Grapples With Tough Law on Immigrants (BRIAN DONOHUE, 10/02/06, Newhouse News Service)

Owners of downtown shops and restaurants say business has plummeted since the illegals began leaving. Landlords are desperately trying to find tenants to rent the growing number of vacant apartments. [...]

[M]any say the immigrants provided the first spark of life the downtown has seen since stores like Woolworth's and W.T. Grant Co. fled decades ago. Seabra's, a Newark-based Portuguese supermarket, took over the old Foodtown. Franco Ordonez, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Ecuador, spent $100,000 to gut an old storefront and open the bustling Chicken King restaurant.

Then came new Brazilian clothing shops and money transfer businesses. Two new restaurants are also set to open.

"Eleven years ago, it was nothing, this town," said Jose Victor, a Portuguese immigrant and owner of Victor's Supermarket, which specializes in fresh meats and produce popular with Brazilians. "These guys spend money."

Crackdown on immigrants empties a town and hardens views: In Stillmore, Ga., more than 120 illegal migrants were arrested last month. (Patrik Jonsson, 10/03/06, The Christian Science Monitor)
In Stillmore, the raids forced Americans to confront their own beliefs. Residents such as Larry Hadden saw friendly and "clean" people invigorating the town's economy. To see them chased "like rabbits" through the underbrush troubled him, as did watching as women and children were left behind without resources. [...]

Still, there's a feeling among some that, as the undocumented go, so does the town of Stillmore. "It was very good here, but now I am too sad I can't find a good job," says Samuel Villalobos, an undocumented worker who hid out with his family in his trailer during the raid. "The trailer parks are empty, people leave very, very worried, no income, no money. It's too hard over here. Stillmore is too quiet."

That's the decision the Europeans have made, to die off in quiet rather than live noisily.

Meanwhile, the smart money is chasing immigrant business, not chasing them out of town, Tapping Hispanic Markets (Colleen DeBaise, September 22, 2006, SmarMoney.com)

Hispanics, who make up 14% of the total U.S. population, are expected to control more disposable personal income for goods and services than any other minority group by 2007, according to a report released in August by the University of Georgia's Selig Center for Economic Growth. The economic clout of Hispanics has risen from $212 billion in 1990 to an estimated $863.1 billion in 2007, the report found.

A growing number of Hispanic entrepreneurs are providing business-to-business services, such as tax preparation, bookkeeping and management consulting, to other Hispanic-owned companies, says Tim Rios, national spokesman for Wells Fargo's Latino Business Services unit.

Hispanics are opening small businesses at a rate three times faster than the national average, according to census data1 released in March, and now own about 1.6 million businesses. "There is no doubt that savvy entrepreneurs — both male and female — are going to find a way to make a part of these businesses their clients," Rios says. "It's very viable, and it's growing."

Wells Fargo, which has a $5 billion lending goal to Hispanic-owned businesses by 2010, each September during Hispanic Heritage Month sponsors the Anna Maria Arias awards for Latina entrepreneurs, a fast-growing subset. Businesses owned by Hispanic women grew by nearly 64% between 1997 and 2004, compared with the 9% growth rate of all private firms, according to a 2004 report by the Center for Women's Business Research.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 2, 2006 6:39 PM
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