The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on April 23, 2001 · Page 3
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 3

Salina, Kansas
Issue Date:
Monday, April 23, 2001
Page 3
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THE SALINA JOURNAL GREAT PLAINS MONDAY, APRIL 23, 2001 A3 TBY GEORGE -4- T HISPANIC ECONOMY GEORGE B. PYLE TlieSallna Journal Hispanics find life after meatpacking Teacher helps add up candles Susan Hammond signed her email, "A second-grade teacher who can't resist correcting people." ' So now I'm standing in front of the class to report that, yes, the menorah, the candelabra used in Jewish ceremonies and decoration, traditionally has seven candlesticks. The nine-branched ver- Isio'n of the menorali often seen jby non-Jews is a special holiday •versibn. I The reason I'm on about this is !that a week ago I was one of 'many newspaper blowhards finding fault with the previous day's edition of the comic strip B.C." In that Sunday edition, cartoonist Johnny Hart made his usual JEaster step away from humor •and devoted the day 's feature to a nstatement honoring his Christian ^aith. ; And this time, in the eyes of many, trashing Judaism. The strip was several pictures of what I said "looked like" a Jewish menorah, each captioned Jwith one of the statements Christ jmade as he was dying on the •cross. After each statement, one lof the candles goes out until all are gone and the menorah becomes a cross. The reaction among many in the Jewish community was a little bit ballistic. It seemed clear to them, as it did to me, that the message of the strip was that Jesus was extinguishing Judaism, brushing it aside for all time. , Hart protested that he intended no such message, that he abhors ihe co-called "replacement theol- bgy" that holds Christianity replaced the Jewish faith 2,000 years ago. He said he meant to honor both religions, and to point out that seven was an important number in both traditions. I thought Hart 's protests were weak, not because he must be trying to trash another faith, but be- iCause he couldn't even get the ;J)ictures right. I thought, after •years of only seeing the pictures 'that are common around rHanukkah of the nine-branched Unenorah, that Hart didn't even jknow what a menorah reaUy looked like. So perhaps his error fcould be written off to ignorance, %he ignorance that is responsible for more of the world's problems khan outright evil. Now I think I'U claim the igno- 1-ance defense for myself, and "have an even lower opinion of Hart, who knew that his drawing used and, intentionally or not, abused a key symbol of Judaism. ; My friend Hammond teaches ^n Clay Center, which is not widely known as a center of rabbinic l^scholarship. But, well, I'll let her 'e-maU of April 17 tell it: "I am not a Jew, by my sister converted when she married a Jewish man in St. Louis," Hammond wrote me. "My class (sec- pnd-graders) writes letters to a plass in New York City that is taught by a Jewish woman. There are usually several Jewish stu- jdents in that class. So, during Jianukkah, I teach a unit to my students. Consequently, 1 have a iittle relevant knowledge in this area." J Actually, to be more correct, I Jiave a little knowledge in this area. ' Hammond has quite a bit, which she went on to share. "It is my impression that there is a special menorah just for Hanukkah — called a Jianukkiyah — that does have feight branches and usually, but jiot always, another branch for the 'helper' candle called a cham- mash. The 'everyday' menorah that is used in synagogues, however, does have seven branches, one for each day of the week. ' "I still don't really vinderstand ,What Johnny Hart was trying to ^ay in his comic strip," Hammond said, "but I don't think he can plead ignorance of the Jewish symbols." , She is right. I was wrong. And Johnny Hart really blew it. '. Not only that, but the fuss caused the Los Angeles Times to iiig up an interview Hart did with The Washington Post in 1999. in which Hart was quoted as saying, V Jews and Muslims who don't ac- pept Jesus will burn in hell." ! And Hart wants to see us in the funny papers? t ' • Journal columnist George B. Pyle can be reached at 823-6464, or by e-mail at gpyle Liberal sees exploding growtli in Hispanic entrepreneursliip By STEVE BRISENDINE The Associated Press LIBERAL — When newcomers wrinkle their noses at the coppery smell of blood from the National Beef Packing plant, this is what they are told: "That's the smell of money" So it is for Hispanic immigrants who come to Liberal — or to towns in states as far-flung as Delaware, Georgia, Nebraska and Washington — seeking jobs and paychecks to help build new lives. The nation's Hispanic popiila- tion jumped nearly 60 percent during the last decade, according to 2000 Census figures, and much of the attention has been given to immigrants flocking to communities with agriculture plants like Liberal's. But an increasing number of Hispanics are finding success far from the killing floors, in middle-class jobs. And while Hispanics are rarely found in corporate boardrooms, the number of Hispanic-owned businesses has exploded over the past decade. In California alone, there are more than 300,000. Lure of jobs "They come here for the same reason non-Latinos come here — jobs," said Rudolfo Perez Jr., director of the Phoenix office of the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund. "Whether you are a professional or an immigrant, you come here for economic opportunity" "We are emerging as business leaders, as community leaders, in this country," said John Avila, whose runs an Albuquerque jewelry business with his wife. In the 1970s, the Avilas peddled jewelry at flea markets. Now, the business has grown to nine stores in three states, with $9 million in annual sales and 100 employees. "The purchasing power of Hispanics has gone up significantly," from $208 billion in 1990 to $328 billion seven years later, said Cici Rojas, president of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in the Kansas City area. According to the Selig Center for Economic Growth at the University of Georgia, Hispanic purchasing power wiU pass $450 billion this year Working on the railroad In southwestern Kansas, immigrants from Mexico used to Victor Limon, owner of La Princesa Bakery, Liberal, carries a tray of sweet Mexican cookies and other confections. Limon is a former meatpacker who opened his own business. "We make dijferent things, things the Mexican people are used to." Victor Limon Liberal baker come to work on the railroad and then arrived in ever-increasing numbers when meat­ packing plants opened in the 1960s. Victor Limon and Carlos Cruz both worked at National Beef when they arrived from Mexico, but have prospered on their own. Limon is a baker and Cruz is celebrating his 10th year as a Western-wear merchant. "I made shoes from when I was 10 years, 11 years old," said Cruz, who came to the United States from Juarez as a teenager 30 years ago. "This is my life." A sweet change He started his business while stUl working at National Beef, selling handmade boots out of his garage. Now, he estimates his annual sales at $200,000; he opened a second store two years ago in nearby Dodge City. Limon's display cases are full of sweet Mexican cookies, pumpkin-filled turnovers and coconut-sprinkled cakes. No doughnuts. "We make different things, things the Mexican people are used to," Limon said. According to the Census Bureau's latest figures, 1.2 million Hispanic-owned firms — most of them sole proprietorships — employed 1.3 million people and generated $186 billion in 1997. The U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce says the count is too low. But regardless, Hispanic- owned businesses clearly have skyrocketed —• up from 490,000 • .... -I? \ Photos by The Associated Press Carlos Cruz points to the Carlos Boots label on a sole of a boot in his Liberal store. A former meatpacking plant worker, Cruz started the business 10 years ago. in 1987 and 860,000 in 1992. Revitalizing downtowns Jack Taylor, executive director, of the Liberal Chamber of Commerce, said immigrant entrepreneurs are a boon to small towns where family-owned stores have given way to discount superstores or closed as young people moved away. Downtown, most new businesses are started by immigrants, he said. "They're a big part of our economy." Such businesses are important to larger cities as well, Rojas said, "It's a revitalization of the urban core," she said. "Everyone else is moving out, and the Latinos are moving in. They're not moving here for labor. They're moving here for entrepre- neurism." Businesses take notice Some corporations are trying to recruit and promote Hispanics and do business with Hispanic-owned firms, Rojas said. She gave high marks to Sprint Corp., the international telecommunications company based outside Kansas City "That's ah example of a company that's walking the walk and talking the talk," Rojas said. "Their campus had a lot of Hispanic contractor participation, and now we're working with them for procurement opportunities for vendors." But success at the highest lev­ els remains out of reach for many American Hispanics. Only 13 Fortune 1000 companies have Hispanic presidents or chief executives, according to 1998 figures compiled by the Hispanic Association on Corporate Responsibility in Washington. Board rooms mostly white The group also found that 133 Fortune 1000 companies have Hispanics serving on their boards — but out of 12,000 overall board seats, Hispanics hold just 164. "I look at the top level of our company — our executives, our board, the vice presidents — and there's nobody who looks like me, thinks like me, has the background values that I have," said Carlos Cojulun, a senior assistant brand manager for Procter & Gamble in Cincinnati. In New Mexico, Hispanics own nearly a quarter of all businesses — the highest concentration in any state — but they take in only about 5 percent of overall receipts. The state economic development secretary, John Garcia, said that's because many Hispanics own small businesses. "I would predict that if it's 5 percent in revenues now, I think you'U see that number increase exponentially" Garcia said. Louis Olivas, an Arizona State University business professor who studies Hispanics and business, said many corpo­ rations might not have foreseen the explosive growth in the Hispanic population and its purchasing power "I've got to believe that right now in corporate boardrooms people are saying, 'They're here, and we failed to recognize it. Now how do we capture that share of the market?' " he said. Limon, who displays cards and promotional fliers for other Hispanic businesses at his bakery in Liberal, said successful Hispanic business owners can also serve as resources to new arrivals and entrepreneurs. "They think of us as a support group," he said. "They want to learn the same things that we learned when we first started. When I got here, I learned how to get along from my friends. Now the new people look at us, the siiccessful business people, and they try to imitate what we've been doing." Although he is carrying on his father's trade — down to the recipes and the name of the bakery, La Princesa — Limon doesn't expect any of his three children to take over the business. "I want them to get a better future, better education, do something more important," he said. "I want them to be able to do whatever they want to do." • Associated Press writers Jacques Billeaud and Heather Clark contributed to this story. Whites, Hispanics must make adjustments Cultures occasionally collide in pursuit of similar economic goals By STEVE BRISENDINE The Associated Press LIBERAL — The boom in Hispanic-owned businesses in the United States is forcing Hispanics and whites alike to make adjustments, merchants and economic officials alike said. For immigrants, that can me^n dealing with such bureaucratic necessities as collecting sales taxes and securing licenses and permits. For small-town business groups, many dominated by white-owned firms, it can mean finding ways to be culturally relevant. For example, few of the Hispanic-owned businesses in the small southwest Kansas, town of Liberal belong to the local Chamber of Commerce — even though executive director Jack Taylor said the chamber actively CDRRECTIOIVIS ••••• The Journal wants to set the record straight. Advise us of errors by calling the Journal at (785) 823-6363, or toll free at 1-&00827-6363. Corrections will run in this space as soon as possible. recruits such businesses. Luz Cruz, who owns boot and Western wear stores with her husband in Liberal and nearby Dodge City, says most Hispanics aren't interested in the social activities offered by non-Hispanic groups. "They have chili suppers, things like that," she said. "Hispanics don't do those things. We're not going to go to something like that." Something else many Hispanic entrepreneurs don't do is risk someone else's money — even a bank's — on their ventures, said Cici Rojas, president of the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce in Kansas City, Mo. Instead, she said, they prefer to save up their own money and start small. "Hispanics can be very conservative in that way, in that they don't like debt," she said. "They prefer to do things with cash, not credit." Hispanics also have different shopping habits, Cruz said. Non-Hispanic customers, she said, shop less frequently and are much more concerned about price. At the stores she and her husband own, their target customers don't think anything of springing for a new $300 pair of cowboy boots — stingray skin, perhaps, or alligator hide — once or twice a month. And if it takes $1,000 to buy a top-of-the line beaver felt hat, then that's what it takes. "We sell to the young, single men," she said. "They have to look good for the girls at the dances, so every time there is a dance they come in and get a new outfit. Then they get married, and they don't come in any more." For the Hispanic-owned businesses in Liberal, at least, most of their business comes from customers who look and speak like the owners. Mexican restaurants draw large numbers of white customers, but the percentage is smaller in retail outlets. But Hispanic businesses are making inroads into the market, said Jack Taylor, executive director of the Liberal Chamber of Commerce. "We needed a suit for my 13-year-old grandson, and hardly anyone carries suits in that size," Taylor said. "We found one in one of the Mexican clothing stores, because they have so many more occasions when people wear dress clothes." For. complete stock listings go to saljournaLcotn the Salina Journal Connecting communities wilh information Residential and Commercial Security and Alarm Service. Miilwest Security Systems, Inc. 1006 E. Iron / Salina, KS 785-825-8157 / 800-732-7863 YEN CHINO Chinese Restsauraxit DELIVERY 823-1685 Open 7 days a week Dine In & Carryout 540 S-Bwadway 823-2089 PATIO Furniture MADE IN USA SUNFLOWER i. Wl .lJnifyil25E. Crawford] FOR ALL YOUR SEWING NEEDS Custom Drapery, Roman Shades, Machine Embroidery, Alterations • Machine Quilting • DOROTHY MILLER 205 SOUTH ROTHSAY MINNEAPOLIS, KANSAS 67467 PHONE 785-392-2472 SI Chicken Fried Steak Dinner ^1 • Dine Inl • Carry OutI • Drive Thrul You get: I Chicken Fried Steak with white gravy • I Individual mashed potatoes and gravy I Individual cole slaw I Biscuit 430 S. Broadway Salina (785) 825-0322

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