Despite the opportunity gap between Latinos and other Americans, Latinos have become the fastest-growing small business owners across the U.S.
Kate Cimini, The Salinas Californian
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The USA TODAY Network series Hecho en USA, or made in America, focuses on the nation's growing Latino community. Roughly 80% of all Latinos living in the U.S. are American citizens, but media coverage of Hispanics tends to focus on immigration and crime, instead of how Latino families live, work and learn in their hometowns. Hecho en USA tells the stories of the nation’s 59.9 million Latinos – a growing economic and cultural force, many of whom are born in the U.S.
SALINAS, Calif. – On the weekends, food truck owner Orlando Osornio, 30, and his wife, Denise, sell mile-high tortas, filled with California fusion-inspired ingredients: hot Cheetos, bacon, mango-habanero sauce, or pineapple. Some come for the birria torta, or the chicken-bacon-alfredo torta.
A line of customers winds its way around the side of his tent as meat sizzles on the grills. On the other side of the mesh, Osornio and his crew pack and stack toasted buns as fast as they can.
Two years ago, when Osornio, who is Mexican-American, was contemplating launching Tortas al 100, he knew one thing: He didn't want to apply for a loan. Osornio had racked up "about $30,000" in credit-card debt as a teenager and said when life smacked him in the face in his early 20s, he got serious about paying it down and fixing his credit score.
That experience, he said, was what prompted him to forgo applying for a small-business loan. Instead, Osornio estimated he and his wife spent at least $50,000 of their salaries on the burgeoning business, including food, four grills and a tent, during its first year of operation.
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