Cities strive to embrace growing Hispanic Shops

Vicente Diaz easily saw the benefits of joining Valley Junction's Main Street program.

"You get your name out there, people refer customers to you," said Diaz, 42, who opened the West Des Moines bakery Let Them Eat Cake nearly five years ago. "You definitely get more business."

But getting other Hispanic-owned businesses to join Iowa's Main Street program has been anything but a cakewalk.

Main Street Iowa, like other programs nationwide, has been working to overcome barriers, many of them cultural, that keep Hispanic-owned businesses from joining the historic preservation group.

Specialists such as Thom Guzman and Norma Ramirez de Miess said the effort is crucial to revitalizing Iowa main streets and downtowns, because Hispanics are rapidly becoming a fixture in Iowa's business landscape. Hispanics are the state's fastest-growing business owners and have the fastest-growing population.

Guzman, Main Street Iowa's director, said, "The trend is going to continue, and we need to figure out strategies to engage these new business owners into the development initiative." READ MORE

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