Arkansas Hispanics Making Stronger Presence

JONESBORO, AR -- A new study shows that our home state of Arkansas has the fastest growing Hispanic market in the U.S. Gina Gomez works at the Hispanic Community Services Center in Jonesboro; a business in a city that's in the state with the fastest growing Hispanic market in the country.

"We can see it every day here at the Hispanic Center because the number of clients that we are servicing is increasing tremendously. We hardly can keep up," says Gina Gomez, the Executive Director of the local Hispanic Community Services, Inc.

Although the new study shows that the ethnic group still only makes up a small portion of the buying power of Arkansans, Gina says for Jonesboro and the northeast part of the state, she's confident that will change.

"The Hispanic community is welcome and probably that's one of the reasons that the population is increasing here in this particular area," says Gomez.

In Jonesboro alone, they estimate the Hispanic population has more than doubled in the last ten years from about 3 thousand to over 6 thousand today. They are numbers she feels will sooner or later strongly impact Arkansas' economic growth.

'I think the impact will be in the future, but I think that it's a big impact what the Hispanic community does in the economy of this country," says Gomez.

Gina also says that Hispanic jobs here aren't just construction or housekeeping anymore. Many local Hispanics are opening their own businesses and getting college degrees to enter into the professional business world right here in Region 8.

"When they see the reality, when they come to the Hispanic center, when they experience the reality of our culture, they really learn and they can see the impact that the Hispanic community has," says Gomez.

The actual figure for Arkansas Hispanics and what they spend in the state jumped from 164 million in 1990 to 2.3 billion dollars this year in 2007.