The Unsung Latino Entrepreneurs of Appalachia
25 Pages Posted: 7 May 2018 Last revised: 5 Dec 2018
Date Written: July 1, 2018
The story of Latinos in Appalachia, when told, is dominated by the plight of migrant workers drawn to meat processing factories or agricultural work, with very little attention paid to Latino entrepreneurship in Appalachia. However, the first generation of migrant workers inspired a surprising collateral entrepreneurial effect: a raft of small businesses owned by (and focused on) the new Latino population surged into small town Appalachia. These businesses, which include restaurants, tiendas, pastelerias, and tortillerias, not only serve the growing Latino population, but also have a tremendously positive effect on local and state economies. These businesses hire employees, rent previously unused commercial space, increase the local demand for goods and services, and provide much-needed tax revenue. The phenomenon of Latino entrepreneurship is an unmitigated positive for small towns that have otherwise experienced great difficulty in producing and promoting small business activity.
This Essay focuses on the economic effect of Latino-owned businesses in Appalachia and concludes with some strategies that might help support these businesses, including providing Spanish translations of local and state business forms (e.g., formation documents, annual reports, etc.), simplifying state business entity and licensing regimes, and changing the requirements for the visa program based upon business investment.
Keywords: Latino, Entrepreneurship, Immigration, Appalachia
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