Latinos and Hispanics in Maine 

Latin Americans have generated millions of dollars in the state.However, there has been little information on how they’ve done that and who exactly they are…until now.In a report released Thursday, members from the Maine Center for Economic Policy have put a face to the latinos and hispanics who are contributing to, and changing, Maine’s economy.”I think we need a little bit of color.”As one of the whitest states in the country, Maine is starting to see an increase of immigrants, in particular hispanics and latinos.In an effort to help the majority understand Maine’s largest minority group, members from the Maine Center for Economic Policy have compiled information tying hispanics to the economy.”We are people that have an education, we are intelligent, capable of owning businesses and capable of brain surgery and that’s the beauty of this report.”In 2002, there were more than 700 hispanic run businesses, generating $113,000,000 to Maine’s economy.”It really gets the stigma out that all hispanics are short, brown and come here to do menial work.” “We’re also professionals, that we are people that have been born and raised here and actually been here since 1860.””Maine has kept track of the hispanic population since 1860 when the U.S. census reported that 25 hispanics lived in Maine. Since then that number has grown to nearly 16,000 in 2007.” “In 2007, hispanics made up 1.2% of Maine population. That seems small, but between 2000 and 2007 that’s a 67% growth rate.” Bianca Soto Gomez is featured in the report. She holds a master’s in Agricultural Education and works as a soil conservationist. Bianca was born in Puerto Rico. Many Mainers confuse her as being Mexican.”When I came to Skowhegan, when people saw me they said, oh, you’re not from here.” Bianca says while she is welcome in her community, there is a lack of cultural education. Something she would like to help change.”They don’t know about us.” The reports authors admit this is only a starting point, but one they hope will lead to erasing stigmas and showing what steps can help Maine prosper, not as separate groups but as one.”Open your mind and help one another.”