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Florida's economy needs Hispanic businesses to thrive

Cash money
Posted at 4:42 PM, Nov 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-13 12:01:54-05

DORAL, Fla. — A recent study by Creditos en USA finds that Florida is the second most Hispanic-dependent economy in the US.  

In the heart of Doral, Florida, is Gamma Diagnostic Lab.  

“We are a medical laboratory. We do all kinds of blood testing such as hematology, std, immigration panels,” shares owner Carlos Lopez.  

Lopez was born in Venezuela and immigrated to Florida in 2001. Lopez's close friend, who has a medical background from Venezuela, helped him open the doors of the lab in 2020.  

“I think that Hispanic people and Hispanic business owners are one of the largest majorities here in South Florida,” he shares. “And, of course, we are a small business, but I think we support the local economy.”  

Lopez’s team of nine, who are all Hispanic, has hundreds of clients from all across the state of Florida and sees walk-up patients at the lab.  

It’s a feat that would not have been possible without organizations like Prospera Florida, a nonprofit that has been providing technical assistance to Hispanic entrepreneurs since 1991.  

“Florida has one of the most educated Hispanic communities in the country,” shares Augusto Sanabria, CEO and President of Prospera Florida. “I think we have the benefit that many of them have resources when they come to Florida from their country of origin, or they have enough educational background or other schools that enables them to start a business.”  

According to a new report from Creditos en USA, without Hispanic storefronts, Florida would lose 1/6th of its businesses. In the state, the largest sector of Hispanic-owned firms in transportation and warehousing is at 27.64%.  

“That is something that is very cash intense, meaning many individuals come from Latin America or the Caribbean with savings from their country of origin, and they see warehouses are investment modules that can allow you to do so many things,” explains Sanabria.  

According to the report, across the country, Hispanic-owned firms have generated a revenue of $1.85 trillion dollars and 11.7 million jobs. In Florida, they have generated more than 1.7 million jobs.  

The report goes on to say that out of more than 1.7 million businesses registered in Florida, 16.53% of them are Hispanic-owned.  

But Sanabria points out that number is disproportional to the number of Hispanics living in the state, who amount to 26.8% of Florida’s population.  

According to the Florida Chamber of Commerce’s 2030 plan, the state wants to become the 10th largest economy in the world. Sanabria says the only way to do that is to embrace and harness the Latino community’s potential.  

“I think we would all agree that if we had an engineer from Colombia who immigrates to the US, we need to figure out a way that they can be contributors to the economy, that gives us more contributions than perhaps driving uber, or working part-time in a hotel, or in construction. The fact that we can utilize everyone’s maximum potential is a benefit to the entire economy of Florida, not necessarily just to the Hispanic market,” states Sanabria.  

But to make their own mark, it’s a process that does not come without its challenges. Sanabria explains that Hispanic entrepreneurs typically make mistakes when it comes to understanding the legal structure of the US, its tax structure and its credit system.

“Immigrating to a new country still has its ups and downs. We do bring a lot of paradigms because of where we came from or the circumstances of why we ended up coming into Florida,” shares Sanabria.

“So many times, our Hispanic entrepreneurs make so many mistakes in those initial stages that one of two things happen. Either, unfortunately, they fail and close, or they stay small and remain small.”  

This is why support like what Prospera provided for Lopez is essential.  

“They give you the guide to how you can do the things when you are a new business. When you go to any institution to ask for financial support, they don’t trust because you are new; who are you. So, these kind of institutions give you all the support you need,” Lopez states.  

And it’s because of that his lab can continue to grow, “We are moving forward very first. I think 2023 will be a very good year for us. We are constantly growing, getting more accounts, getting more clients.”  

Gamma diagnostics hopes to open more labs as a way to pay it forward and contribute to the success of the state they are proud to call home.