Latino State News
Hispanic Entrepreneurs Flourish in Little Village
With over 500 businesses on the 26th St. strip, Little Village’s immigrant entrepreneurs are flourishing, but other Midwest towns have not been as lucky.
The Little Village Chamber of Commerce’s new Director, Nilda Esparza, along with vice-chair, Robert Garza describe the area as the cultural and economic home to Chicagoland’s Mexican population.
Garza’s family came to Chicago in the 1940’s from Mexico, and opened one of the first grocery stores in Little Village.
“Everything from A to Z,” said Garza. “From grocery stores, travel agencies, just about anything, you can find here on 26th Street.”
Little Village has been built on the backs of immigrant entrepreneurs like businessman Jesus Davila who owns four businesses in the area. The owner of two restaurants and two other businesses, Davila says, “Little village is a place where a lot of us have started, a lot of us have flourished.”
In Southeast Michigan however, Steve Tobocman, in charge of the Global Detroit Initiative, looks at places like Little Village green-eyed as he tries to figure out how the area’s success can be replicated in his, and others’ cities.
“I think immigrants represent a tremendous potential,” he says. “Already the role that they’re playing, for example here in Southeast Michigan, is that they are critical components of energy driving us to the new economy”.
Now back here in Chicago, researchers are attempting to determine the best way to keep the highly educated immigrant students in Illinois rather than go elsewhere in the country or back to their home countries after graduating college as Illinois has seen the creators of Netscape, PayPal, YouTube, and Oracle leave and take their businesses elsewhere after being educated in the state.