Latino Spending Power on the Rise in Harris County

It’s a good problem to have, millions of potential customers from a segment of the population that has traditionally been ignored by big business. It’s no longer a secret that Latinos here in the US have a lot of spending power, nearly a trillion dollars a year.

As Houston Public Radio’s Jack Williams reports, more and more business leaders are doing what they can to tap-into that potential gold mine. Once considered a population with very little spending power,
Latinos have now emerged as the fastest-growing population
in the United States. Rice University’s Dr. Stephen Klineberg
says here in Houston, those numbers mean big bucks for
businesses that adapt to change.

“There are more Hispanics than Anglos in Harris County, Texas
today. They are the young people moving into making more
money every year. The most under-served because every
institution in Houston was built by, for and on behalf of Anglos.
Every one of them has to transform themselves to become a
Houston institution in the 21st century. It’s a remarkable
moment of Historical transition. Smart companies, every
business understands you either figure out a way to
capitalize on the growing diversity or you find it harder and
harder to grow your business.”

A new report by the Tomas Rivera Policy Institute shows
the Latino economic landscape has changed drastically, with
more and more Hispanics with substantial disposable incomes.
Harry Pachon is the institute’s president. He says big
business is waking up.

“You can see the real estate business all of a sudden realizing
that Latino home-buyers are a significant segment of that
consumer base. Upscale products, whether they be Cadillacs
or Infinities know that Latinos are buying cars that are not
low-end. It’s a natural market development that the growth of
the consumer power is going to change these companies

Dr. Laura Murillo is president and CEO of the Houston
Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and says she’s seen a change
in how businesses treat Latino customers.

“Ten years ago you might have a few people within a corporation
who were eager to get this message, but in a more behind the
scenes type of a way. Now, we have sponsors in our chamber who
are saying help us with the message of immigration. Help us address
this issue. Help us find a solution.”

Jeff Moseley is president and CEO of the Greater
Houston Partnership. He says Houston would be
wise to adapt to the new marketplace.

“We owe it to ourselves to really understand the dynamics
of what is a tsunami of opportunity for the marketplace and
the Latino, Hispanic consumer is growing by leaps and bounds.
It’s a demographic trend that everyone can prove-up now. It’s
not conjecture, it’s beyond that. So how do we best embrace

Latino’s make up about 38-percent of Harris County’s