Hispanic purchasing power in Arizona continues to grow, and the number of Hispanic-owned businesses in the state more than doubled in less than a decade, according to the annual report produced by the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.
The fifth edition of DATOS Tucson provides an overall picture of the Hispanic market in the state, allowing businesses to better target this growing customer base, officials said.
“This information allows you to make data-driven decisions,” said chamber president Gonzalo de la Melena Jr. “Choices on your market entry strategy, your growth strategy, your spending strategy, your investment decisions.”
Hispanic purchasing power in Arizona topped $40 billion this year, part of $1.5 trillion nationally, and the group is not shy in using that power, outspending non-Hispanics in a variety of industries, including food, clothing, medical services and motor vehicles.
The 188-page document, a companion to the statewide DATOS report, was presented Tuesday before about 400 people at the Hilton El Conquistador Golf & Tennis Resort.
The impact of Hispanics on the small-business ecosystem was also clear in the report, through new information released by the Census Bureau, officials said.
From 2007 to 2012, the number of Hispanic-owned businesses grew by 70 percent, from 52,667 to 89,673. During that period, the total number of all businesses statewide grew just 2 percent, from 491,529 to 499,927.
Based on the growth trend, it is estimated there are now more than 123,000 Hispanic-owned businesses in the state, said Mónica Villalobos, vice president of the chamber, with more than half of those owned by Hispanic women.
However, average earnings for Hispanic-owned businesses are about $100,000, compared with $500,000 for non-Hispanic businesses.
“We’re a small-business state; small business drives our economy,” Villalobos said. “So we really need to promote and provide resources and tools to help Hispanic-run businesses grow because that’s the future of our economy.”
Also, despite growing economic muscle, Hispanics in Arizona continue to lag behind on higher education and in voter turnout, the report shows.
“We have a lot of power and we need to own that,” Villalobos said.
An expansion of the current travel limit for Mexican visitors with border crossing cards to include the entire state could bring in up to an additional $180 million per year, researchers said.
Speaking at the DATOS presentation, Alberta Charney, an economist at the University of Arizona, said the state would benefit from expanding the border zone.
Spending in the state by nonresident visitors is about $17 billion a year, generating 140,000 jobs. Spending by Mexican tourists alone accounts for $2.5 billion and 25,000 of those jobs.
Currently, Mexican visitors with a border crossing card can travel without a special permit up to 75 miles into Arizona, a limit established in 1999 and “designed solely to get shoppers to Tucson,” Charney joked.
According to her research, eliminating the limit could bring total spending by Mexican visitors to $3.1 billion in 2016. The study was commissioned by the Maricopa Association of Governments.