A rapidly increasing Latino population, a surge in Hispanic-owned businesses and an increase in employment opportunities for Hispanic college graduates in science, technology, engineering and math will define the social, cultural and economic future of the United States, according to a woman widely regarded as one of the country’s most influential Latinas.
“Over the past century, America’s economic vitality was tested time and time again, and at every key juncture, it was our ingenuity, our creativity, and the sheer resilience of America’s entrepreneurs that lived in our country and inspired the world,” said Monica Lozano, CEO and chair of the board of ImpreMedia, a leading media company serving the growing Hispanic community in the U.S. “That is also the story of Latinos, of our community, risk takers, optimists … This community will not just help this nation bounce back, it will usher in the next wave of American growth and vitality and that is why America’s future will be defined by the Latino community at least for the next 100 years.”
Lozano shared her perspective on “Latinos, Texas and America’s Future” during her presentation at The University of Texas at El Paso April 15, as part of UTEP’s Centennial Lecture series.
For three generations, Lozano’s family has been a pioneer in the newspaper industry. Her grandfather, Ignacio Lozano, founded La Prensa,a small Spanish-language weekly newspaper in San Antonio, in 1913. In 1926, he establishedLa Opinión, which today is the No. 1 Spanish-language daily newspaper in the U.S. Monica Lozano previously served as its publisher and CEO.
In 2004, the Lozanos merged La Opinión with New York’s El Diario La Prensa to form ImpreMedia, which is the nation’s largest multiplatform Spanish-language news and information group that reaches more than 11 million Hispanic adults every day.
“Educating, serving and advocating for the nation’s growing Hispanic community are longtime family traditions for both UTEP and Monica Lozano,” said UTEP President Diana Natalicio. “(Her) tireless efforts to give voice to issues of importance to Hispanics are well known and highly respected across this country and internationally.”
During her lecture, Lozano explained that the size of the Latino population in the U.S., the country’s proximity to Mexico and Latin America, and the power of Hispanic culture and language, has led to an explosion in media directed toward Hispanics in the country. Hispanic language networks such as Univision, Telemundo, Entravision and Azteca; radio stations; magazines and websites offer targeted content for different segments of the Latino population.
“When my father took over La Opinión in the mid-1950s, he used to say that he expected to be out of a job in the not-too-distant future because Spanish-language media would go the way of other ethnic press,” Lozano said. “In other words, Latinos would assimilate, lose their language, and Spanish-language media would be in decline. Today, as you can see, the opposite is actually true.”
As the largest minority in the U.S., Hispanics are growing in influence. There are 55 million Hispanics in the U.S. and that number is expected to grow to 133 million by mid-century. In addition, today one out of every four children in the U.S. is of Hispanic descent. Lozano estimates that over the next 20 years, there will be at least 1 million Latino youths who turn 18 years old every year who will be ready to go to college, enter the workforce, become voters, start companies and build their lives, not just along the border, but across the country.
“This is a phenomenon that has moved to regions far beyond the traditional population centers – the Midwest, the Southwest, New York and Florida,” Lozano said. “Today Latinos call Oregon home, Washington, Idaho, North Carolina, Arkansas – it’s across the heartland of America that we’re seeing the greatest increase in Hispanic population growth. And it’s a young population.”
But Lozano said the biggest impact is in the number of Hispanic entrepreneurs over the last 25 years who have been starting businesses at nearly twice the rate of the general population. She credits these entrepreneurs with creating new jobs, revitalizing neighborhoods and improving the quality of life.
According to Lozano, there are 3 million Hispanic-owned businesses that contribute close to half a trillion dollars annually to the U.S. economy.
“These are the demographic trends that are influencing our American economy, that are changing the fabric of our life and that, in my opinion, are making it the future of America and are important to a region like El Paso,” Lozano explained. “Latino immigrant entrepreneurs are also perfectly poised to take advantage of all the opportunities that come with international trade and commerce.”
However, Lozano emphasized that the best indicator of success for any population group is achieving a university degree, especially if it’s in the fields of science, technology, math and engineering (STEM). She congratulated UTEP for being the largest producer of Mexican-American STEM graduates in the nation.
STEM fields are expected to add jobs 73 percent faster than any other field, which creates a huge employment boost for Texas. Currently there is a college graduate shortage to fill the estimated 1.5 million to 3 million STEM jobs.
“We’re not graduating enough people in fields that require advanced degrees, which is another compelling reason for us to invest in universities like UTEP, which is not just Hispanic-serving but Hispanic graduating,” Lozano said.
Earlier in the day, Lozano visited with student journalists in the Department of Communication who are involved in the Borderzine.com online magazine.
Among them was Maria Esquinca, who also attended the lecture and tweeted some of Lozano’s quotes.
“I think she’s empowering the Latino community as a whole,” said Esquinca, a junior who is studying multimedia journalism. “I think it’s important that she comes to El Paso and people take away that message. If you did come to her lecture, you did leave feeling empowered and maybe more aware of the worth of the new rising majority in the U.S.”
Laura Acosta is a writer in UTEP's Office of University Communications.