Hispanic Population Growth Boosting Tri-Cities Businesses

Hispanic Population Growth Boosting Tri-Cities Businesses
TRI-CITIES -- A booming economy in the Tri-Cities means we are one of the fastest growing communities in the state. In fact, Franklin County comes in at #1, fueled by an ever-increasing Hispanic population.

Employees at Luis Garza's State Farm Insurance office know that reality firsthand.

"At first we were delivering service in English only," says Luis Garza. "And now we're actually adopting to those changes. As the community demands those changes, we must change to meet those needs."

The latest census data shows Franklin County gained the most people in the last decade, jumping 58%. But the Hispanic population grew even more than that, at a full 71%. It means businesses, big and small, are changing they way they do business.

Martin Valadez is President of the Tri-Cities Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. He says, "Just like with any segment of the market, any segment of the population, the better you understand, then the better you can serve them."

Everything from Spanish speaking customer service, to non-profits increasing cultural awareness, organizations say they're simply keeping up with the times.

"The law of supply and demand," says Garza. "What is it that they want, and can we supply the product that they need?"

And consumers say it's an effort that's paying off.

"Everywhere you go, everyone's Hispanic here," says Pasco resident Jasmin Garcia. "And it's more of a relief, to know that you're with your own kind."

The latest census figures also show the Hispanic population is growing so fast, there are now more Latinos in Franklin County than Caucasians, meaning the 'minority' is no longer in the minority.

For many businesses and other organizations, the climbing figures simply mean more opportunity.

"It makes me proud that we're standing up and we're growing," says Garcia. "Not just the population, but we're growing successfully, professionally, and we're getting educated. and that's... my mom didn't have that."

Washington's total population grew by 14 percent since 2000. It means the state will soon get an additional seat in Congress and qualify for more federal assistance.

Lura Powell is the head of the state's Redistricting Commission. She says the group of two Republicans and two Democrats is currently examining all the locations where population grew across the state, to figure out where the new seat should be. She tells Action News it's too soon to know if it might be in Franklin County,or the Tri Cities. But she says they are definitely going to be focusing on all the recent Hispanic growth, making sure that part of the population is fairly represented.