Via Democrat and Chronicle
Celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month may have recently ended, but there are ample reasons to appreciate the presence of this growing segment of the region’s population year-round.
Foremost, Hispanics are adding to this community’s cultural richness. In Rochester alone, nearly 35,000 residents or 16 percent of the city’s population identified themselves as Hispanic or Latino in the 2010 U.S. Census. Hispanics in this region come from Puerto Rico and Spanish-speaking countries such as Spain, Mexico and the Dominican Republic.
As the number of Latinos and Hispanics increase here, so have their political and economic influence. Just a few examples of leaders include city schools Superintendent Bolgen Vargas, school board members Jose Cruz and Melisza Campos, City Councilwoman Jackie Ortiz and businessman Sergio Esteban, who was recently honored as Hispanic Businessperson of the Year.
It’s instructive, too, that both President Obama and challenger Mitt Romney have been actively going after the Latino vote, particularly in the swing states.
Meantime, cities such as Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Allentown, Pa., have mounted aggressive campaigns to recruit Hispanics to their communities, which have been losing population for decades.
Global Cleveland, that city’s economic development agency, is seeking to boost the Northeast Ohio region’s population by 100,000 over the next decade and believes it can be successful by targeting Hispanic professionals and tradespeople in particular. Cleveland lost 17 percent of its population in the last decade alone.
In Pittsburgh, Hispanics within a 300-mile radius are being targeted by the city with offers of $40,000 college scholarships to move there. With one of the largest Hispanic communities outside of New York City, Rochester continues to be viewed by this population as a desirable destination. Indeed, that’s worth celebrating, and not just during Hispanic Heritage Month.