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DURHAM, N.C. – Self-Help Credit Union is not surprised at the growing number of Hispanic-owned businesses in North Carolina. The $242 million credit union was responding to a new survey from the U.S. Census Bureau that showed the number of Hispanic-owned companies in North Carolina grew 24% and generated more than $1.7 billion in revenue between 1997 and 2002, the Fayetteville Observer reported in a March 22 article. More data from the just-released “2002 Survey of Business Owners: Hispanic-Owned Firms” also revealed that the state’s 9,000 Hispanic-owned firms generated 66% more revenues since 1997. “There is a lot of support from community colleges and universities, credit unions and small business centers,” said John Herrera, vice president of Hispanic affairs at Self Help CU and chairman of the Latino Community Credit Union board. “It’s a welcoming environment.” Herrera told the publication credit unions and nonprofit organizations have helped the cause by pushing home ownership in the Hispanic community. “For a lot of immigrants, that’s the first step to owning a business,” he said. Angel Romero, marketing director at the $24 million Latino Community Credit Union told the publication there are two other reasons Hispanics are succeeding in opening companies: there are not enough businesses that fit the cultural demands of Hispanic consumers, and there are not enough bilingual owners. “For example, you see a lot of growth in grocery stores that the population likes,” Romero said in the article. “They cannot find the service that they need in the current business, so they create them themselves.” -

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