Leveling the playing field

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By Executive Editor Jim Diaz

Arizona’s population increase and economic growth over the past few decades has been widely chronicled and there is little doubt that the rising Latino population has fueled and supported much of that expansion. It is also generally accepted that economic growth, largely driven by real estate and tourism, has led to the “trickle down” phenomenon of entry level jobs for recently arrived Latinos in the construction and hospitality industries.

What is less clear is to what extent Latino-owned businesses have been fully participating in that economic growth. Are all boats rising in this wave of prosperity and opportunity or are Hispanic businesses settling for their own version of economic trickle-down opportunity?

This month, in Latino Perspective’s semi-annual business issue, we are announcing an ongoing inquiry to try to answer this question. First, we take a look at what it takes to become a registered Latino business, what kind of opportunity that certification creates and how Latino businesses are participating. We then ask the question, “Where is the disparity report?” promised by Governor Napolitano that was designated to answer this question of minority business participation in the state’s economy.

April is the month of the college draft, when pro football chooses the young athletes who will be future starts in the National Football League. We kick off our inquiry by taking a look at how the NFL chooses its newest vendors, Latino and otherwise, that will participate in this extremely  high-profile sporting event in the Valley. We offer some hints on how to participate and start to follow a Latino business on its own “Road to the Super Bowl.”

Arizona’s winning bid for the 2008 Super Bowl was triggered when a sales tax bond was passed in 2000 by voters. This provided money to build a new football stadium, the minimum requirement to host a Super Bowl. Over the coming months, we will examine the accessibility of the opportunities created by taxpayers’ investments in Arizona’s infrastructure, economic development and growth initiatives. We will also take a look at the level of participation by Latino businesses and citizens.

For those of you who are regular readers of LPM, you are familiar with the many stories that we have documented that portray the fierce self-determination of Latino citizens to embrace and achieve their own American Latino dream. Our goal with this series is to ensure that these fields of dreams and opportunity are in fact level. We look forward to your feedback on this important issue to our community. Visit us online at to give us your feedback on this subject.


By Managing Editor Anita Mabante Leach

Speaking of uncovering important issues, LPM columnist Marcos Najera claims to have found where all the Brown people are on television. You may not be surprised, but at least Najera now has documented “proof” of the results of all those corporate diversity programs (with tongue firmly in cheek). Read Najera Nites for the update.

And we are excited to present an exclusive interview with rock goddess Sophia Ramos, the Puerto Rican singer who’ll be rockin’ the house on alternate nights during Arizona Theatre Company’s Love, Janis run.

Ramos admits her younger years were much like Janis Joplin’s. She says she identifies with the late Texas rocker, which helps her to conjure a powerful voice. For more on Ramos, visit

Also in this issue are stories that touch upon our community’s heritage and cultural strengths. Reporter Georgann Yara details the treasures found at a University of Arizona online project, “Through Our Parents’ Eyes,” which for 14 years has gathered materials from many southeastern Arizona families. In Cultural Connections, vivacious Hispana leader and author Juana Bordas discusses the strengths that diverse employees bring to the workforce and how employers can take advantage of those traits.

In Vibe, readers get a glimpse behind the scenes of Calo Flamenco, the hot dance company that has earned an ardent fan base in the Valley. Founder and choreographer Martin Gaxiola is the sparkplug for this very original group, which will grace the Chandler Center for the Arts this month.

Finally, check out the amazing story of Cuban artist Nelson Miranda Garcia, a humble dishwasher at Deseo restaurant in the upscale Kierland Resort and Spa in Scottsdale. Miranda Garcia is basking in a burst of publicity, now that his natural artistic talents have been discovered. His tale affirms that talent and a little luck still can make someone a star.

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