July 12, 2012
Blanca Mata has made arepas and other Latin American staples in the same shop for 17 years and still remembers her first order: pork chops with rice and beans, requested by an English-speaking American.
Mata, owner of Arepas & More Café on North Bumby Avenue, moved to Miami from Venezuela 25 years ago and later to Orlando in search of a better life. She has been joined by a huge influx of foreign-born small-business owners in Central Florida, a new study has found.
As of 2010, immigrants made up 23 percent of small-business owners in Metro Orlando, which includes Orange, Lake, Osceola and Seminole counties — up from 10 percent in 1990, according to the Fiscal Policy Institute’s Immigration Research Initiative.