United States Senator Mary L. Landrieu (D-La.), Chair of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, today recognized Hispanic Heritage Month and celebrated the economic and cultural impact Hispanics have made in Louisiana and across the United States.  

“With a population that has reached over 50 million, Hispanics are the fastest growing minority in the United States,” Sen. Landrieu said. “They also represent the most significant growth pattern of small business owners in the country.  Hispanic Heritage Month is a great time for us to recognize the significant impact Hispanic business owners have on innovation, job creation and economic growth.  But it can’t just stop here.  We must continue to work throughout the year to help all businesses succeed and to create an effective entrepreneurial ecosystem for minority-owned small businesses.” 

As Chair of the Senate Small Business Committee, Sen. Landrieu is committed to ensuring all entrepreneurs have a fair shot at creating their businesses and careers.  She introduced the Women and Minorities in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Booster Act of 2012; this would help Hispanics and other minorities pursue careers in the STEM industry by allotting funds to the National Science Foundation’s grant program.

A 2010 survey of business owners conducted by the Census Bureau found that Hispanic-owned companies comprise 2.3 million of the 27.1 million U.S. businesses. Further, Hispanic-owned businesses have increased by 43.7 percent since 2002. Hispanic-owned businesses generated $345.2 billion in sales in 2007, up 55.5 percent when compared to 2002, while the number of Hispanic-owned companies with receipts of $1 million or more increased 51.6 percent—from 29,168 to 44,206 businesses—between 2002 and 2007. In Louisiana, Hispanic owned businesses make up 2.9 percent of all businesses. Between 2002 and 2007, the number of Hispanic-owned businesses grew by 45 percent.

This recognition of Hispanics in America began in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week under President Lyndon Johnson and was expanded by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 to cover a 30-day period starting on September 15 and ending on October 15. September 15 is significant because it is the anniversary of independence for many Latin American countries, including Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence September 16 and 18, respectively.