José Cárdenas: The Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and Salt River Project released a new report that finds Latino purchasing power is impacting business growth. According to "Datos 2012 Focus on the Hispanic Market: Transforming Arizona’s Economy” the annual Hispanic buying power in our state has reached an estimated $40 billion and could top $50 billion by 2015. Joining me to talk about "Datos 2012" is Gonzalo de la Melena, president and CEO of the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Gonzalo, welcome back to "Horizonte."
Gonzalo de la Melena: Thank you.
José Cárdenas: After what has been a very full weekend. Actually, it started on Friday. Something different that the chamber did this year in conjunction with the presentation. Give us an overview.
Gonzalo de la Melena: Thanks for having me. We were excited this year to create this two and a half phase symposium, the centennial for the state, it's an election year and we're coming off the 2010 census, which prompted us to book-ended our Datos product and our black and white on the end and in between we filled it in with workshops for some of our small business owners, and then we also had a political town hall. We were excited to call that transforming Arizona's economy and really talk about the role and contribution of Latinos in Arizona's economic recovery but its future sustainability.
José Cárdenas: We're going to get into some of the details of Datos, which is the almost annual report that the chamber has been doing for some time now. But before we do that, the other things that were talked about at the conference, you had some outside political observers, and tell us what they had to share with your group.
Gonzalo de la Melena: On Friday after the Datos, we had political town hall where we showcased a primary set of research data that Univision that described the voter base. We now in Arizona that there are almost a half a million potential voters, registered voters, which are up about 70,000 from the last four-year cycle in 2008, and if we can get 70% of those folks to vote, that would be 300,000 plus Hispanics going to the voter booth this year.
José Cárdenas: But that's a huge dip, isn't it? Did your consultants discuss that?
Gonzalo de la Melena: It's assuming we can hold the line between 65 percent and 70% red-shirt voters to go out and cast the vote. The big delta is still in those who are unregistered and that's the opportunity to grow, as well.
José Cárdenas: And in terms -- there was some discussion as I understand it about the recent Morrison report on Latino education.
Gonzalo de la Melena: I think the biggest challenge that we continue to find is what they call the disconnect or the gap between the Latino graduation rates versus the general market graduation rates and we're still significantly depressed versus that. That's the opportunity for all Arizonans to ensure that all of Arizonans get educated in order to build an educated workforce in order to have a great supply chain for the future.
José Cárdenas: As I understand it, what really underscores the importance of having an educated Latino workforce is the demographics as evidenced by the 2010 census. You waited a year, you skipped last year because you knew the data was coming. Tell us what that had indicated.
Gonzalo de la Melena: We now know that Arizona like much of the U.S. is becoming more demographically dynamic and Hispanics grew by almost 50% in the state of Arizona, 2 million strong representing one third of the state, 42% of the city of phoenix, and greater than 50% of k-12, which is going to shape the future of Arizona.
José Cárdenas: And the report itself before we get into more specifics, let's talk about it the preparation. It was a little different than it was in the past.
Gonzalo de la Melena: We took a little bit different approach in building almost like a newspaper has an advisory editorial board, we brought own subject matter experts from leading corporations in Arizona. We brought on the head of research from the dial corporation, from Univision, from a media perspective, from small developers in town to get different subject matter expertise in each of those verticals, utility and media and retail. These folks not only provided content into our program but helped us shape the narrative, helped us draw conclusions, identify insights and most importantly what are the implications of the data and what are the indicated actions for both large business and small business?
José Cárdenas: So let's talk about that. What are the takeaways in each of those areas?
Gonzalo de la Melena: I think it the biggest thing that we're seeing is the validation that Hispanics are going to continue to be the future growth engine for Arizona, and if not harnessed correctly, Arizona won't be able to compete significantly in the global economy. If harnessed correctly and we create strategies of inclusion, we have an advantage. Said another way, we have to utilize all of our talent of all the Arizonans in order for Arizona to be successful.
José Cárdenas: So you mentioned inclusion creating an atmosphere of inclusion. That was a veiled reference to what's been happening in the state the last few years beginning with the implementation or the passage of S.B. 1070. Was there much discussion about that?
Gonzalo de la Melena: There was. I think now in hindsight looking back, everybody understands that it's had an effect on the brand image of our state and of the city of phoenix and that doesn't bode well for attraction of new business. That doesn't bode well for retention. That doesn't bode well for tourism and we saw all of that happen in decline over the last couple of years. Declines in tourism, loss of business opportunities, and I think in order to be a successful marketplace, we want to provide opportunities for everybody.
José Cárdenas: And yet the growth is in anticipated is still going to come from the Latino population?
Gonzalo de la Melena: Absolutely. In fact, from a small business standpoint, we now know that Arizona's primarily a small business marketplace, 98% of all jobs in Arizona are small business. There's 400,000 small business owners, of which one fourth of them are minority owners or 100,000. And approximately 60,000 are Hispanic-owned businesses. But more interesting is that group is growing at a rate three or four times faster than the general market. So not only will we be driving consumerism and construction but the small business makeup of the state.
José Cárdenas: Thanks for coming on for sharing these important results.