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TULSA'S Hispanic growth is a plus for the local economy

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There is explosive growth in Tulsa's Hispanic population. A new study released Wednesday shows a nearly 200% increase in Hispanic residents in the past ten years.

The survey of 500 families by the Community Service Council of Tulsa highlighted the contributions of Hispanic Tulsans and their need for better services. Enrique Meija came to Tulsa to work and improve his standard of living. Tulsa's Hispanic Study 2001 says those are the same reasons the city's other 34,000 Hispanic residents are here. "I feel great here. I like the way they treat me, and I like it." The survey identifies home building as one of the industries where Hispanic workers make a significant positive impact, contributing $50 million to the annual economy, and much more, according to the builders who hire them. Brandon Perkins, Home Builder: "We find that the Hispanic population in general are some of the hardest working workers around - also, they're dedicated to their work, they show up on time." That finding and others were released Wednesday by Tulsa's Community Service Council, which launched the study of the strengths and needs of Tulsa's Hispanic Community.

Among the findings...Residents are young, the majority under age 50. 500 Hispanic-owned businesses pump $250 million a year into the local economy. The majority work full time, but make less than $2,000 a month. 50% have no health insurance. The survey identifies education as the most critical need of Tulsa's Hispanic Community. Since 56% of respondents don't speak English well, the study calls for making English study more accessible. Programs like a Tulsa Community College TV language station will help, but the study says schools, churches, libraries need to offer more opportunities as well. The study also stressed the need for bilingual health care workers, and immigration services.

Finally, some Hispanic residents say they feel welcome, others misunderstood. Maria Carlota Palacios, Study Co-Author: "They want to raise families, they want to have a decent job, they want good schools for their kids, they want to contribute to our community just like everybody else does."

The study's authors hope more Tulsa businesses will examine ways to better serve this population and they invite anyone interested in volunteering to contact the Community Service Council.
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