Ten years ago, Wal-Marts in the Midlands didn’t have entire aisles devoted to Hispanic foods.

For most, Taco Bell was the closest thing to a tacqueria.

There were no art shows or poetry contests featuring creative Latinos.

But that has changed as Hispanics moved to the Midlands by the thousands to take advantage of job opportunities. Those new residents not only filled out the area’s work force, but they brought along families, food traditions, holiday celebrations and other pieces of their culture as they made the area home.

“They came to fill labor-intensive jobs,” said Ivan Segura, a Hispanic advocate in the Midlands. “But it’s just not all about being a good worker.”

So, Hispanics have opened restaurants and hair salons. They have founded churches. And they are promoting their artistic side with shows and contests.

In the past decade, South Carolina posted one of the fastest-growing Hispanic populations in the country, and it grew at a faster-than-expected rate. The 2010 Census counted nearly 236,000 Hispanic residents, which was 9 percent higher than recent estimates had predicted it would be, the Pew Hispanic Center reported. Statewide, Hispanics now make up 5 percent of the population. READ MORE

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