Despite Handful of Hispanic–owned Businesses, Growing Hispanic Population in Manitowoc Still Faces Challenges
As the number of Hispanic immigrants continues to grow in the United States, communities around the country are seeing an increase in the number of new small businesses started by Hispanics.
In Manitowoc, Wisconsin, Guillermo Ramirez is one example. After coming to America in 1999, Ramirez bounced around from New York City to Virginia before finally settling in Manitowoc.
In a land where Hispanic immigrants are mostly employed as farmers and must constantly adjust to a changing work environment, Ramirez stands out. Eight years ago he started his own business, Ramirez Auto Repair.
While there are only a handful of Hispanic–owned businesses in Manitwowoc, they were only started recently and are representative of the growing Hispanic population in the area.
Like most of the Hispanic immigrants in the Midwest, Ramirez was attracted by the cheap housing and low cost of living. Despite having owned and operated a successful business for eight years now, he still remembers how difficult it was when he first moved to the area.
Ramirez and his family spent their first month in Manitowoc on the floor of their friend’s apartment because no landlords would offer him housing without a letter of reference.
For many immigrants, finding housing is hard enough as it is, let alone finding a safe and reliable home. Many tenants are forced to accept inadequate housing because it is all they can afford. Homes with foundation problems, which can cause major structural issues and safety risks, often go unrepaired. This not only poses a safety hazard for tenants, but can also lead to serious issues down the road.
Among the other issues presented to Hispanic immigrants in places like Manitowoc are learning to speak and understand English, finding reliable transportation and obtaining the proper documentation.