Report: Latin population adds to Las Vegas business boom

LAS VEGAS - When you look at the remarkable business boom when it comes to the Latin population in the valley, it's clear the Las Vegas economy is bouncing back.

A new report sheds light on some outstanding economic growth, but unfortunately, not all of the news is good news.  One out of every three people in Nevada is Latino, but estimates show by the year 2019, Nevada will be a majority minority state. 

The National Council of La Raza and the Las Vegas Latin Chamber of Commerce hosted community and business leaders for a roundtable discussion on the State of the Economy for Latinos. Leaders say because of the population boom, the economic health of the Latino community affects all of Nevada.

"Some of the key findings are that Latinos are very engaged in the labor force and are very entrepreneurial, so that leads to a large rate of small business growth," said Rafael Collazo, National Council of La Raza.

Between 2007 and 2012, the number of Latino-owned businesses in Nevada skyrocketed nearly 87 percent.

"You have a very aggressive outreach going on for entrepreneurship, and that's why the numbers are reflecting that," said Peter Guzman, Latin Chamber of Commerce.

Children's access to health care also improved from 2013-2014.  The number of uninsured Hispanic children dropped from 20 percent to 13 percent; the largest drop in the nation. 

"There are some positive trends going on here that we don't see in other places so we not only want to learn how we can improve the local economy for Latino families but what are we doing right here in Las Vegas and Southern Nevada and throughout the state that can inform us on a national level," said Collazo?

However, the community also faces huge challenges because Latinos tend to have a lower household income than the rest of the state.  Studies show fewer Latinos own a home and have access to banks, so lending remains a problem.  Perhaps the most striking stat is that less than 10 percent of Latinos in Nevada above the age of 25 have a Bachelor's degree.

"Some of the challenges are access to higher education, so we want to have conversations about what are the kind of policies we can work on at a federal and state level to give Latino students access to affordable college education," Collazo said.

Latinos also make up a huge part of the electorate, which is why NCLR says it's working with the community to get out the vote this election cycle.  They believe the Latino vote in this state will be a driving force and determine whether Nevada, a swing state is blue or red come November 2016.


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