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Sunday, September 04, 2005

Hispanics, blacks take different paths to success

In Michigan, Hispanics find niches in corporate world as blacks go it alone. By Louis Aguilar / The Detroit News

David Segura sounds like many aspiring Latinos in business in Michigan. The 35-year-old son of Mexican immigrants enthusiastically recounts starting his Detroit staffing business with $100 in 1997. Last year, sales totaled $12 million.

"The time is now" for Hispanic businesses, said Segura , who has over 100 employees and a client list that includes several Fortune 500 companies

Kenyetta Walker, 35, echoes many determined black entrepreneurs striking out on their own. The Detroit native plans to trade working in Compuware Corp.'s downtown glass tower, where she is a computer analyst, for a second floor walk-up in Eastern Market. There she'll start a computer training firm aimed at inner-city students and workers.

"It's not about working with big brand names, but building more personal wealth in the community," Walker said.
Segura and Walker exemplify distinct cultural shifts that are shaping growth trends among Hispanic and African-American businesses in Michigan.
Many Hispanics are thriving amid growing acceptance from corporate America, resulting in a billion-dollar boom in revenues for Michigan Hispanic businesses between 1997 and 2002, the most recent figures available.

Many African-Americans, though, are going it alone, heeding the message from religious and civic leaders that they need to take control of their own wealth and make sure more of it benefits their own communities. In the same five-year period, 19,000 blacks launched one-person operations in the state -- a torrid pace compared to Michigan's overall business growth."The data tells you that the groups are going through very different experiences," said Kurt Metzger, research director for Wayne State University's Center for Urban Studies, who analyzed Michigan business ownership trends using U.S. census data.

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