• Hispanic Businesses in Tucson Since 1854

      Amado, Melissa; University of Arizona (University of Arizona, Mexican American Studies and Research Center, 1988)
      Hispanic ownership of businesses has existed in Tucson prior to the Gadsden Purchase of 1854, which allowed the United States to acquire Tucson and part of Southern Arizona. Although ranching and agriculture were main sources of income for this group of pioneer settlers, they were able to diversify their wealth into other sectors of the economy. As the Hispanic population became integrated into American society, an evolution of minority identity towards business ownership occurred. Starting in the twentieth century, Mexican Americans tended to operate mostly in the service industry, such as barber shops and grocery stores. There were a few Hispanic lawyers and doctors. However, their numbers were small in compañson to the growing Mexican American and Anglo populations. The Great Depression of the 1930s affected many of these agriculturally oriented Hispanic families. By the 1940s, more Mexican Americans and Anglos were arriving to the area in search of employment. By the 1980s, a trend was evident of a service sector economy for the Tucson labor market. Most of the twenty Hispanic entrepreneurs interviewed for this study were first or second generation Tucsonans, The pioneer Hispanic families are no longer at the forefront of business opportunities. Instead, sonic of the offspring from these pioneer families have gone into other fields or enterprises in order to develop their own entrepreneurial identity. Some of the interviewees that are descendants of these "latecomers" are undecided as to whether they want their children to enter the family business. As a consequence, some of these establishments may end in the next twenty to thirty years. A cycle of continual Hispanic "latecomers" operating businesses may develop in the Tucson area. The consequence could be the lack of a solid economic base for the Hispanic business community.