(Editor’s note: This is part three of a four-day series on the impact of immigration in Madison County.)

Joaquin Salgado and his wife Arsenia have been owners of Mi Pueblo Grocery Store II, 465 Eastern Bypass, for more than four years, which Joaquin claims as a big privilege something he is very proud of.

“I don’t have to work for another person, and this is my very own business,” he said.

Salgado speaks English well and has been an American citizen since 1997.

He first worked at an automotive manufacturing plant in Lexington for eight years before moving to Richmond. The money he accumulated during this time was used to open the grocery store.

His brother-in-law owns the first Mi Pueblo Grocery Store to be established, which is in Winchester.

He informed Salgado that Richmond was an area where there was not an adequate selection of Spanish food products.

Mi Pueblo Grocery Store II now offers food products that accommodate a variety of ethnicities.

“We have some products from South America, like from Honduras, El Salvador and Venezuela,” he said. “We also have some (customers) from Africa.”

Owning and operating a grocery store would not have become a reality for Salgado if he still lived in Mexico, he said.

“In Mexico, I had to work eight or more hours for less money,” he said. “For eight hours of work, you would get about $10. I make more money by owning my own business then I would working for a company or for someone else.”

Salgado also said the value of the Mexican dollar was much less than that of an American dollar.

“One American dollar is worth 10 times more than the Mexican peso (equivalent to one U.S. dollar),” he said.

The overall economic impact the Hispanic population has on the local community and the nation is substantial and growing every day.

“The data is very clear,” said Alberto Sanz, who publishes a weekly Spanish language newspaper for Central Kentucky, in addition to maintaining a bi-lingual Web site and producing radio programs in Spanish.

“The United States needs to fulfill at least a million jobs every year in areas such as agriculture, construction and other various services that rank at the same level. In Latin America, thousands of individuals cannot find a job.”

The Hispanic-Latino Business Council was created in 2006 in Kentucky and supports business and economic growth in communities by providing information that can help Hispanic-owned businesses become more successful.

The council also works to increase the awareness of the presence of Hispanic/Latino businesses in the state.

The growth rate of Hispanic-owned businesses between 1997 and 2002 was three times that of the national average, based on information provided by the council.

The nearly 1.6 million Hispanic-owned businesses in America generated nearly $222 billion in revenue, up 19 percent from 1997, according to information released in March 2006 by the U.S. Census Bureau.

In 2006, foreign-born workers accounted for 15 percent of the U.S. labor force, and over the last decade they have accounted for about half of the growth in the labor force, according to a report released in 2007 by the Washington, D.C.-based Council of Economic Advisers.

“On average, U.S. natives benefit from immigration,” the report states. “Immigrants tend to complement (not substitute for) natives, raising natives’ productivity and income. Careful studies of the long-run fiscal effects of immigration conclude that it is likely to have a modest, positive influence.”

The report’s conclusion states that immigrants increase the economy’s total output, and natives share in part of that increase because of complementarities in production.

“The Economic Census gives an accurate picture of America’s 23 million businesses,” said Louis Kincannon, Census Bureau director. “The growth we see in Hispanic-owned businesses illustrates the changing fabric of American’s business and industry.

“With Hispanic businesses among the fastest growing segments of our economy, this is a good indicator of how competitiveness is driving the American economy,” he said.

Ronica Shannon can be reached at rshannon@richmondregister.com or 623-1669, Ext. 234.

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