COLLEGE PARK The number of Hispanic-owned businesses in Maryland soared to 25,742 in 2007 up 67.7 percent from 2002, according to data recently released by the Census Bureau.
That was significantly greater than the 43.7 percent increase to 2.3 million in Hispanic-owned businesses throughout the country during that period.
"It doesn't surprise me that the percentages were so high" for business increases, said Raul Medrano, business development specialist at the Montgomery County Department of Economic Development. "The entrepreneurship spirit in the Hispanic community is alive and well."
Medrano added that immigrant communities are accustomed to "doing more with less ... with taking risks." During economic crises, "the mindset is to be resourceful, to seek opportunities, to adjust to change, to be flexible."
David Hinson, national director of the Minority Business Development Agency, speculated the entrepreneurial nature of the Hispanic community coupled with the rapidly growing Hispanic population could account for the trend.
The U.S. Hispanic population increased 24.4 percent between 2000 and 2006, to an estimated 44.3 million people, according to Census Bureau data released last week. Maryland ranked ninth among the states, with a 46.4 percent increase in the Hispanic population Durango that period.
The totals were for nonfarm Hispanic-owned firms in the United States.
Businesses in the construction industry accounted for the highest number of Hispanic-owned firms in the United States in 2007, accounting for 15 percent of the total.
"Many of the first-generation (immigrants) ... were engineers in their native country," Medrano said, "but due to the language barrier . . . the next best thing is to create their own business in construction," he said.
"It was hot, it was easy," he added, and "at that time homes were being built ... it was easy money."
Wholesale trade, construction and retail trade brought in 51 percent of the revenue for all Hispanic-owned businesses in the U.S., the report showed.
Theresa Daytner, 46, who was born to first-generation Hispanic Americans, was part of the entrepreneurial surge. She started Daytner Construction Group in Mt. Airy in 2003 after establishing two other businesses, a residential roofing company and an accounting firm.
Daytner said her family's background may account for her interest in running her own businesses. The granddaughter of immigrants from Chile and Venezuela, she said her father, who was born and raised in New York City, grew up poor, only spoke Spanish at home and lacked access to education.
"The harder you have to work for something, the more innovative you have to get," Daytner said. "I think that passed down to me the industriousness."
The report also included data for 50 of the most populous counties in the United States, including Montgomery County in Maryland.
With an estimated population of 930,813 in 2007, Montgomery County was ranked as the 45th most populous county in the United States. Its Hispanic-owned businesses grew to 11,551 in 2007, up 56 percent from 2002.
Los Angeles, the most populous county in 2007, saw a 19.8 percent increase in the number of Hispanic-owned firms.
Revenues for Hispanic-owned firms in Montgomery County increased by 83 percent from 2002, generating $1.5 billion in 2007.