November 21, 2008

(via Kevin Whited):

In Ethnic Enclaves, The U.S. Economy Thrives: Asian and Latino communities benefit from doing business in cash. (Joel Kotkin, 11.21.08, Forbes)

Throughout the country, ethnic-based businesses continue to expand, even as mainstream centers suffer or go out of business. The key difference, notes Houston real estate investor Andrew Segal, lies in the immigrants' greater reliance on cash. "When cash is king," observers Segal, president of Boxer Properties, "immigrants rule."

This is true not just of well-heeled Asians or Middle Easterners, but also for Hispanics, who generally have lower incomes, notes Segal's partner, Latino retail specialist Jose de Jesus Legaspi. For example, the recession has barely taken hold at La Gran Plaza, the recently opened 1.1 million square foot retail center in Ft. Worth, Texas, where Legaspi serves as part owner and operating partner.

The center, reconstructed from a failing old mainstream mall purchased in 2005, is now roughly 90% occupied. "We are doing so well that we are expanding the mercado," Legaspi says, referring to the thriving centers dominated by very small businesses run from attached stalls that are a popular feature of many Latino-themed centers. "It's all cash economy. They pay their bills with cash. The banks and credit card companies are not involved. It's true capitalism, and it works."

Latino shoppers, he suggests, also have been less impacted by the stock market collapse than other consumers. After all, relatively few, particularly immigrants, have large investments on Wall Street. In addition, even if they have lost their jobs, particularly in construction, Legaspi adds, they tend to pick up other employment, even at lower wages, often in the underground economy. "They get paid in cash, and they pay in cash."

Ah, the benefits of the Anglo shutting you out of the system....

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Posted by Orrin Judd at November 21, 2008 3:38 PM
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