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The State of Hispanic Businesses in Central Florida

Palmetto leaves crown the loaves at La Segunda Central Bakery in Tampa, which has been in business for more than a century.
Chip Weiner Photographic Arts
Palmetto leaves crown the loaves at La Segunda Central Bakery in Tampa, which has been in business for more than a century.

According to the Florida State Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, there are more than 604,000 Hispanic businesses across the state, contributing more than $90 billion to the economy.

Luis Nieves-Ruiz is the Director of Economic Development at the East Central Florida Regional Planning Council.

WMFE’s Talia Blake caught up with him at his office to talk about the state of Hispanic business in Central Florida.

Second in the nation

According to the Florida Chamber of Commerce, Florida ranks second in the nation for Hispanic owned businesses.

ECFRPC's Luis Nieves-Ruiz said out of the more than 600,000 Hispanic businesses across the state, a little more than 3% are in Central Florida.

"We identified about a little over 20,000 businesses in our region," he said. "Of course that’s Metro Orlando, we're only talking about Orange, Seminole, Osceola and Lake counties."

Nieves said Hispanic Business in Central Florida tend to be small.

"The majority of them have less than seven employees with one to four employees may be the maximum," he said. "So its almost what you would call a micro businesses."

After Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico as a category 5 storm in 2017, some business owners moved their company to Central Florida.

That transition can be difficult due to the permit process in Florida, according to Nieves.

"One of the complaints that business owners in Puerto Rico is that it takes too long to open a business in Central Florida," he said. "The type of permits that we have here in central Florida that are required are completely different. And that's where usually you have some problems."

Economic Impact

With many Hispanic owned-businesses in Central Florida being smaller in scale, Nieves said it's hard to gauge their economic impact.

"For example of a large hotel, like on International Drive that allows employs 100 to 120 people and is visited from all over the world," he said. "We're not at that point yet. We will get to that point. That's the hope is just that at this point, our Hispanic community, our region is pretty young."

After a brief stint as Morning Edition Producer at The Public’s Radio in in Rhode Island, Talia Blake returned to WMFE, the station that grew her love for public radio. She graduated with a double-major in Broadcast Journalism and Psychology from the University of Central Florida (Go Knights!). While at UCF, she was an intern for WMFE’s public affairs show, Intersection. In her spare time, Talia is an avid foodie and enjoys working out.