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Salem Business Journal Introduces Spanish Edition to Empower Local Hispanic Community

Written by Naomi Yanike on Dec. 14th, 2023
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Why Spanish? Political Engagement, Representation, and Necessity

The Salem Business Journal (SBJ) is beginning a new era with its Spanish Print Edition to foster inclusivity and bridge cultural gaps, signaling a commitment to better serve and engage with the vibrant Spanish-speaking Salem business community. 

SBJ Publisher and Entrepenuer Jonathan Castro Monroy said they took this step because Salem’s local Hispanic business owners and community members are not engaged in the political happenings that directly impact their businesses and lives. 

“One example is the employee-paid payroll tax. A majority of local Hispanic business owners had zero clue on what was happening in the judiciary and when they learned about it, they strongly opposed the tax and how the city managed the process,” said Castro Monroy. “We want to make sure that people know what’s happening in their backyard from a public policy standpoint, and we want to empower them to use their voice.” 

Jesse Peone III, Entrepreneur and President of Salem Business Journal said: “I believe that everyone deserves to know what’s going on in their community and they deserve to be a part of the conversation. Since we’ve owned the SBJ, we’ve worked hard to make that a reality.” 

“Making the SBJ available in Spanish for the print version is important because even those who are bi-lingual prefer to read in their native language” Peone said. Once launched, the Salem Business Journal en español will be the first major Spanish publication in the Salem-Keizer area. 

Castro Monroy believes that the Spanish-print edition will also help provide more resources for the discontentment that they believe is visible amongst Salem’s Hispanic community after working, helping, and networking in the Hispanic community for the last 10 years.

“The state and local levels of government do not always represent what the overall Hispanic community wants. They are frustrated and think the state of Oregon is going in the wrong direction, getting worse with the current leadership majority,” said Castro Monroy. “We want to be a publication that keeps them informed, empowering them to take action at the level that they feel comfortable.” 

The reality is that the Hispanic community in Salem is growing, and Castro Monroy said it is also out of necessity that the journal needs to be delivered in Spanish. 

“Most elderly Hispanics want their news in Spanish because they prefer the Spanish language or don’t speak English,” he said. 

Giving the Hispanic Community a Voice 

Hispanics comprised 22.8% of Salem’s population in the 2022 U.S. Census, representing the second largest majority group at approximately 40,467 people, while White remains the largest majority group at 72.2%. However, within the Salem-Keizer Public School District, Hispanics are the dominant majority group at 45%, with Whites being second at 41.8%. 

Over 40 years ago, in the 1980s, Latinos made up only 2.5 percent of Oregon’s entire population, equaling only 65,000 people in the state, according to Oregon’s Encyclopedia project “Latinos in Oregon.” 

Castro Monroy emphasized the importance of giving the Hispanic community a much-needed voice because of the growth and helping families, parents, and business owners be a part of the transformational, positive change that needs to happen in Salem. 

“The first part of using your voice is to know what’s happening in your local government. Be informed. The second part is to know when and how to act,” he said. “Act by being part of the city committees and sports commissions,  and supporting the candidates that accurately represent your values.”  

President of the Oregon Hispanic Business Association Art and Business Owner Cortez said Salem’s Hispanic community needs to get more recognition for what they do, pointing to crucial jobs like farmwork that boost the economy. He said the SJB Spanish print edition will be an amazing asset for more recognition. 

“I want to make sure that we continue the recognition of our farmers, what made us who we are and has supported us along the way,” said Cortez. 

Cortez grew up watching his father help found the Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center, which was started in 1975 to help farm workers overcome economic, language, and cultural barriers to health care when six-year-old Virginia Garcia died from an easily treatable wound. 

Cortez said he understands firsthand the power of the Hispanic community continuing to overcome barriers and build bridges with resources from the SBJ Spanish-print edition. 

“Latinos are the silent majority. And it’s time for them to speak their mind,” said Cortez. “We need to start helping the Latino politicians step up to the plate and be more productive in society, helping fight our cause.” 

Raising up Hispanic Leaders

City Councilor Jose Gonzalez is a leader in the community, being the only Hispanic city councilor currently serving Salem. 

“Having a Spanish Salem Business Journal came as great news to me. There are very few Spanish news outlets in Oregon and none in Salem. So, it’s needed, and I will support it in any way I can,” said Gonzalez. “I will do whatever it takes to ensure the whole committee has a trusted place to learn about area happenings.” 

Pastor Jerry Miranda of Tabernaculo de Salem Church said the Hispanic community must grow in its leadership recruitment and training for this desired political representation. 

“Unfortunately, the Latino community is very lax in leadership. That’s an area where we are at fault for not training and raising leaders like our young people,” he said. 

Miranda said he takes an honest, hard look at his community, and “it angers and upsets him” when he sees a secondary high school for lower-income families filled with Latino children. 

“Instead of telling our children to shoot with stars, you are somebody, there’s a purpose in your life, and when you grow up, you can be this – we sell them short,” he said. 

Miranda shared his passion for promoting more Hispanics in leadership as a pastor who has started 26 churches. He said he is always thinking about preparing and training the next generation. He is excited about Salem’s Hispanic community and seeing a future full of potential leaders.

“We have to identify leaders in the Latino community to have a greater percentage of people in government, politics, the mayor’s office, and representatives on the city council,” he said. “We should have more up there.”

Learning from the Past – Envisioning the Future 

Community Wealth Builder Consultant and local author Lucy Escobar has been a part of Salem’s Hispanic community for almost 23 years and noted the possible cultural and economic contributions that SBJ has the potential to make, overcoming past barriers and looking toward the future. 

“Access to the Salem Business Journal in Spanish could be a tool for community engagement, fostering awareness, promoting events that are happening, and writing articles to celebrate what’s happening in our community,” said Escobar. “Diversity needs to be highlighted because we are the fabric of the community.” 

Escobar strongly believes that business plays a significant, crucial part in the health and success of Salem’s Hispanic community – providing job opportunities, fostering entrepreneurship, and supporting the overall financial well-being of community members. 

The Hispanic community brings unique products and services from other places that reflect the community’s culture and enrichment. 

“Last time I looked at the numbers, I think the Latino community had the highest buying power,” she said. “When we talk about the business landscape and culture, we need to include ourselves. We need to understand our power. This includes buying power.” 

Miranda also noted this power. “Like everything else – what is not in your language is almost like you’re not part of it,” he said.  

The past has always included issues with inclusivity for Hispanics, which is why Miranda said SBJ’s new edition is important for the future. 

“When someone launches something new and then puts it in your language, it says to you – we want to be part of this, we want your influence, we want your wisdom; we want to share this with you,” said Miranda. “Putting it in Spanish opens the door and allows more Latino community businesses to be part of this experience.” 

Miranda said diversity issues must be addressed because Salem is a multicultural, multi-language city. “Unless we mix and get together or have common ground, we may try to ignore each other,” he said. 

Miranda sees the SBJ as a help in breaking down that barrier. 

“When you visit a new city, you can spend two weeks there and not learn anything about the area. Or you can take a tour guide and learn more about that city in two hours,” he said. “The Salem Business Journal can be this important future guide for the Spanish-speaking community.”

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