Small Businesses Owned by Immigrants Booming in Metro Orlando

Orlando Sentinel
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.

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