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Columbia Business Monthly

Hispanic Alliance Partnership helped to showcase Hispanic-owned businesses and their contributions to Greenville’s economy

Dec 23, 2021 12:26PM ● By Adele Mendoza

Over the past year, Hispanic Alliance and Greenville Business Magazine embarked on a mission to highlight the contributions of Hispanic business owners and entrepreneurs to our community. We are proud of this partnership to promote diversity, inclusion, and awareness in the community. 

The series featuring Hispanic-owned businesses demonstrated how diversity can be a strength and not something to be feared. These portraits offered a glimpse into the rich and vibrant entrepreneurship brewing within our growing Hispanic community and showed the human side of our collective story – all of us have far more in common than we have differences.

Represented in these profiles have been print journalists, bakers, grocers, caterers, insurance agents, and numerous restaurateurs, each a trailblazer and bridge-builder in their own way.

Samuel Castro, who came to Greenville by way of Honduras and then Miami, grew up in a family of merchants and applied that knowledge to start a grocery store in the community. Jorge Barrales, the son of Mexican immigrants, started as an intern at Soby’s while in high school and went on to open his own restaurant.

Ghisela Eljach, who grew up in Colombia, started a lifestyle publication in both Spanish and English to help newly arrived Hispanic residents connect to the Greenville community. 

Their businesses are as diverse as their owners, but they all share the can-do-it spirit of Greenville.

Their stories are also quintessentially American. Many of these entrepreneurs are immigrants – or children of immigrants – who are giving back to the community that offered opportunity to them, lifting others as they prosper. They, and the countless others like them, are living proof that in spite of the odds, the American Dream is possible. 

Greenville has seen unprecedented growth in recent times, and the Hispanic community has played a critical role in this economic prosperity. The South Carolina Commission for Minority Affairs documented a 72 percent increase in small business ownership by Hispanic entrepreneurs from 2007 to 2012, almost double any other nonwhite populations.

In addition, it found that Hispanic families held $2.8 billion in buying power and added more than $345 million to the annual state tax base. Further, a Stanford University study found that the number of Hispanic businesses grew by 34 percent over the past decade, compared to only 1 percent for all other races.

These statistics are in line with population growth as well: in South Carolina, the Hispanic community has grown 30 percent in the last 10 years, and 148 percent in the decade before that.

The world-class-city-with-a-small-town-vibe is possible in our Greenville. Our innovation and prosperity have grown in parallel with the community’s steady inclusion of diversity. Imagine what would happen if we fully embraced its potential.