By TRACY X. MIGUEL The Hispanic population nearly doubled in Collier County and exploded in Lee County from 2000 to 2010, the U.S. Census Bureau reports.
And, the total populations in both counties increased by more than one-fourth during the same time.
The Census Bureau today released detailed demographic information from the 2010 Census for Florida, the District of Columbia, Massachusetts, Michigan and South Carolina.
Collier’s Hispanic or Latino population increased 69 percent in the past decade, while Lee County’s Hispanic population increased 170 percent.
“We welcome the news of growth. It shows a sign that the economy, with this growth of the Hispanic market, is maybe taking a turn for a better economic time,” said Leonardo Garcia, president and CEO of the Hispanic American Business Alliance.
Hispanics now comprise 26 percent of Collier’s total population and 18.3 percent of Lee’s.
The Census Bureau reported a growth in the total population in Collier and Lee counties. Collier’s population grew by 28 percent, while Lee’s increased 40 percent.
In a different survey, which looked at race, white residents in 2010 made up 83.9 percent of Collier’s total population and 83 percent of Lee’s. In Lee, blacks comprised 8.3 percent of the population while they are 6.6 percent in Collier. Hispanic is an ethnicity.
News about an increase in the Hispanic community in Southwest Florida is good for retailers, restaurants and real estate, Garcia said. Investors and companies who may have not done so in the past will start marketing to the Hispanic market, he said.
With more Hispanics in Collier and Lee counties, the Literacy Council Gulf Coast saw a greater demand for residents seeking to learn how to speak English.
“Over this past decade we have seen a major increase,” said Susan Acuña, executive director of Literacy Council Gulf Coast, which recently merged Literacy Volunteers of Lee County with Literacy Council of Bonita Springs.
Despite the economic bust, with the lost construction employment, the organization still saw an increase in students, Acuña said.
Although Acuña could not say why there has been an increase in enrollment, she said students are looking for ways to make themselves more marketable to employers and improve their skills.
In 2000, the organization served 141 students. By the end of 2010, or this past fiscal year which ended June 30, the council served 2,554 students.
Connect with Tracy X. Miguel at www.naplesnews.com/staff/tracy_x_miguel/
Collier County total population: 251,377 (2000); 321,520 (2010) -- 28 percent increase
Lee County total population: 440,888 (2000); 618,754 (2010) -- 40 percent increase
Hispanic total population: 49,296 (2000); 83,177 (2010) -- 69 percent increase
Mexican: 38,773 (2010)
Puerto Rican: 5,573 (2010)
Cuban: 17,179 (2010)
Dominican: 1,436 (2010)
Central America (excludes Mexican): 7,407 (2010)
South America: 9,133 (2010)
Other Hispanic 3,676
Hispanic total population: 42,042 (2000); 113,308 (2010) -- 170 percent increase
Mexican: 34,212 (2010)
Puerto Rican: 24,503 (2010)
Cuban: 20,253 (2010)
Dominican: 3,777 (2010)
Central American (excludes Mexican): 13,203 (2010)
South American: 10,894 (2010)
Other Hispanic or Latino: 6,466 (2010)
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