A 2017 blog posted by the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce ballyhooed: “Hispanic small business owners are confident about their growth prospects (with) 76 percent planning to grow their businesses over the next five years.” Another previous survey of the local ethnic market (2015) had already labeled the Tucson area as “a Top 25 Hispanic market” (with a then [2015] impressive purchasing power of $38 billion).

This month’s release of the 2018 or fourth annual Hispanic Market Outlook/Southern Arizona Report, presented by the chamber in partnership with Telemundo Tucson, provides contemporary statistics showing current trends, purchasing power, segmentation, education and other data indicative of the continuing and growing economic impact of the Hispanic market that confirms that earlier optimism.

In ramping up to the unveiling of the latest data, chamber President and CEO Lea Márquez Peterson noted that Census figures show that by year 2035, Arizona will be a majority Hispanic state.  

“With the current population spending more than $40 billion a year on goods and services in the state, and more than $10 billion in the Tucson region alone, businesses cannot afford to ignore this fast-growing market,” she said

Márquez Peterson, on the campaign trail chasing a Senate seat, spoke via video during which it was announced that while she would remain CEO of the Chamber, she was stepping down as president, with chief development officer Lydia Aranda promoted to the position of interim president. Aranda indicated that just as the theme of this year’s outlook event dealt with transition and transformation, so, too, would the THCC. 

“I don’t just believe in the future of Tucson and Southern Arizona, I want us to be a part of making that future,” she said. 

Speaking to a planned crowd of 300, Juan Ciscomani, director of the Southern Arizona Governor’s Office, presented a proclamation from Gov. Doug Ducey acknowledging Hispanic Heritage Month and noting, “We’re a little over a third of the population now, representing a big sector in terms of both purchasing power and a strong voting bloc.” 

In his welcoming remarks, Telemundo’s General Manager Andrew Deschapelles told the audience that prior to the inception of this information-gathering project, “There was no good research out there on how to develop strategy. Now we compile and share comprehensive data on what’s going on in Southern Arizona’s Latino community for the benefit of the business community at large.” 

Cesar Melgoza, founder of Geoscape, whose family migrated from Mexico to a California farm labor camp in his youth, was this year’s guest speaker. The Silicon Valley veteran and founder of Geoscape today leads a business that provides counsel and technology to hundreds of senior corporate executives. In the process, Melgoza, who authored an award-winning master’s degree thesis entitled “Chicanos in the New Economy,” has become known as a leading innovator in business strategy and consumer insights.

He told the sold-out crowd: “Because the doors to corporate America have not always been as open to those of Hispanic origin as they might have been, we became entrepreneurs who built our own pathway to the future.

“We are the largest and fastest-growing consumer group in the U.S. with Hispanics contributing more than 60 percent of the population growth since 2010. Hispanics are not a minority, we are a growth majority and we’re premium consumers. Measuring the lifetime value of a consumer, spending through end-of-life, Hispanic households spend more than Anglo households.”

Complete release of the detailed 150-page document is still pending as of deadline from the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, but here are some highlights that emphasize the importance of the local Hispanic market:

• Median age of Tucson Hispanics is 26, compared to 37 among non-Hispanics

• Local Hispanic density is 39 percent (464,700 Hispanics out of a population of 1.2 million)

• Even higher density—83 percent—is found in Santa Cruz County

• There are 10,620 Hispanic small business owners in the Tucson area

• Another 20,300 Hispanics identify as self-employed

• Average Hispanic household income is listed at $48,400

• 76 percent of Tucson-area Hispanic homes have children ranging in age from 2 to 17

Full publication of the 2018 Hispanic Market Outlook—Southern Arizona is anticipated soon.  Contact the Tucson Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, 620-0005 or TucsonHispanicChamber.org, for further information.

Lee Allen is an Inside Tucson Business freelance reporter.