Chronicle Editorial

 

Many opportunities exist within Hampton’s diverse population

 

     A presentation last week at Center 1 gave guests a lot to chew on, but one thing was clear: Hampton’s diverse population has created an ever-growing reservoir of untapped opportunities to spur future community growth.

     Guest speaker Norma Ramirez de Miess, director of leadership development for the National Main Street Center, brought a wealth of data, first-hand insight and informative suggestions during her stop last Thursday. She explained the many opportunities available for communities with diverse ethnic populations like Hampton, but noted those possibilities will only get realized through joint cooperation and outreach by everyone involved. Ramirez de Miess, a native of Honduras, has a long history of helping cities nationwide achieve their potential by embracing new segments of the population.

     Specifically, Ramirez de Miess pointed towards Hampton’s growing Hispanic population as source for economic and community growth. The past 10 years have seen a marked increase in Hispanic residents, and that trend only promises to continue in the near future. Ramirez de Miess emphasized projected data that indicated one out of every three Hampton residents will be of Hispanic ethnicity by 2018. She explained failing to grasp that portion of the population would be of severe detriment to the city, and felt now was the perfect time to act and make connections for future success.

     “You have a very conservative demographic that is trying to figure out how to deal with a different segment of the population,” Ramirez de Miess put point-blankly. “For some of you that might be concerning because we’re not used to that big of change that quickly. But looking at the ways to adapt and build a bridge can create opportunities to grow the entire community.”

     Her points are well-taken. Hampton already has solid core of established Hispanic businesses, and building on those could lead to added success down the road. However, Ramirez de Miess pointed out areas at the local level that could use some improvements as we look to the future. Increased inclusion between Hampton’s established businesses and new Hispanic ones will lead to more local involvement on their behalf, she said, which will create a better foundation of diversified commerce throughout the community. Embracing Hispanic businesses could create additional relationships outside of the economic realm, which can only make Hampton a more attractive and multi-faceted community.

     Some locals may claim that it’s simply not possible to work together as a well-oiled machine. Language barriers often make communication difficult, and other unique cultural characteristics tend to split the community into separate segments. However, it’s imperative that we focus on our similarities rather than our differences as we move forward. Both Midwestern and Hispanic cultures value hard work, strong family unity, faith and their heritage, among many other similarities. We’ve made progress towards bridging the gap over the years, but it’s clear more can be done to strenghten the community’s bond through increased interaction and inclusion.

     Hampton’s residents have many similarities, but Ramirez de Miess’ presentation shone light on the most important of them all: everyone here wants to see this community succeed now and in the distant future. Embracing Hampton’s diverse population through multiple means will only drive that success and make it a more attractive place for future residents and businesses. Many small towns similar to Hampton are struggling to stay afloat, but we here have a great opportunity to build on an ever-growing segment of the community that has a lot to offer.