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Latinas leading the way in Arizona small business creation

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Colorado Rockies co-owner Linda Alvarado knows firsthand how hard it can be to run a business.

“Starting into construction, you can imagine, I never met another woman in construction.”

Today, Alvarado owns a multimillion-dollar construction business in Denver, and served as the keynote speaker at the Arizona Hispanic Chamber of Commerce “Power of the Purse” celebration Monday at the Desert Botanical Garden.

The event honored Latina entrepreneurs.

“The growth of Hispanic women entrepreneurs is thriving,” Alvarado said.

Thriving, indeed. According to the Hispanic Chamber, Latinas own 66,000 small businesses in Arizona, more than half of the 123,000 Hispanic-owned businesses here.

Latina businesses are the fastest growing category of small businesses in the country, according to James Garcia, Communications Director of the Arizona Hispanic Chamber.

US Census figures show that growth has accelerated in Arizona, with the number of Latina-owned businesses tripling since 2007.

Garcia said there are several reasons why more Arizona Latinas are becoming entrepreneurs. Latinas tend to graduate from high school and college at greater rates than Hispanic men.

The economy may be playing a role, as women start businesses supplement family incomes. Garcia said immigration continues to play a role as well.

“Immigrants, by definition are the most entrepreneurial people in the world. They pack up, they come to a new place and they start their lives over.”

Arizona Hispanic Chamber President Gonzalo De La Melena Jr. said Major League Baseball is recognizing the power of minority business with a Diversity Business Summit this week in Phoenix.

The Arizona Diamondbacks are hosting the two-day event, which will pair minority entrepreneurs with representatives of teams. He said the event also reflects baseball’s acknowledgement of the power of Hispanic consumers.

“It’s an event that’s filled with opportunity,” MLB Commissioned Rob Manfred said. “I’m looking forward to getting out there and getting people some jobs and hoping people will form some business relationships that are good for baseball and good for business.”

Hispanic consumers in Arizona account for more than $40 billion in annual spending per year.

KTAR’s Jim Cross contributed to this report.

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