According to the Center of Hispanic Leadership in Irvine, California, “2012 is the defining year for companies that seek to build an authentic relationship with Hispanic consumers”.
The present – and impressive — $1.2 trillion dollar in Hispanic consumer power is forcing businesses to begin to pay close attention. All over the US, companies are aiming to develop more than ever before authentic Hispanic talent at all levels in order to better understand and capture this promising market niche.
And politicians are doing the same as they try to be elected or re-elected this year.
Hispanic presence in the US is, of course, much more prevalent in states such as California, Texas (where 65% of the population is of Hispanic origin), New Jersey, and Florida, where Hispanics are the majority in 28 cities, and where the number of Hispanic politicians continues to grow. Still, the Hispanic population in other states is growing, and will continue to do so if we are to believe the US Census Bureau statistics for the last 10 years.
In the specific case of Michigan, Hispanic power of purchase and business ownership has also grown exponentially. The Lansing Area Hispanic Business Association (LAHBA) allied itself with the Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (MHCC), and together these organizations aim to expand the already strong Hispanic presence in business and technology to the rest of Michigan.
The West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce looks after the needs of Latinos located – as its name indicates – throughout the West side of Michigan, including Greater Grand Rapids. It also makes its presence felt by organizing charity events to help institutions such as the Helen De Vos Children´s Hospital.
For this year´s US presidential election (coincidentally, Mexico´s presidential election is also in 2012), 14 million Hispanics in this country are already registered to vote – and they will. The number of voters increased by 43% in the last decade, so it comes as no surprise that during the coming elections Hispanics will be expected to have a strong impact as to who occupies the Presidential Office in the US.
According to Antonio González, president of the Southwest Voter Registration Education Project: “Latinos will be important particularly in swing states [like Michigan and Ohio]…”, whereas Matt Barreto, Associate Professor at U. of Washington, states “…Latinos will account for over 10% of the citizen population – potential voters – in 11 states.”
As to undocumented workers, a poll by the Anti-Defamation League, showed that “over 60% of the people in the US are in favor of some kind of path to citizenship for those immigrants of good character and who have been in the US for more than six years”.
Hispanic voters are definitely gathering momentum. Who will they vote for? Probably not for any candidate that opposes the Dream Act, or who favors the separation of families through deportation. They know their economic power, and they will use it to support the candidate who finally comes up with sound and comprehensive immigration reform.
The time to court the Latino vote has come.