Economic DevelopmentCelebrating Hispanic Heritage Month
By Katherine O’Hara, President of The O’Hara Project

Hispanic Heritage Month is a time to celebrate the rich and diverse culture, history, and contributions of Hispanic Americans, both on a national level and right here in the great state of New Jersey.

The influence of the Hispanic community in the United States cannot be overstated. According to the Pew Research Center, Hispanics alone accounted for over 51% of the population growth of the entire nation. This statistic underscores the demographic shift that is shaping our country.

Looking ahead, the Department of Labor predicts that over 78% of new entrants into the American workforce in the next decade will be Hispanic. Hispanics play a crucial role in the future economic and social fabric of our nation.

When it comes to entrepreneurship and economic growth, the Hispanic drive cannot be understated. Over the last decade, Hispanics created approximately 80% of net new businesses, with 1 in 4 new businesses in America being Hispanic-owned. This entrepreneurial spirit not only fuels the American economy but also showcases the determination and ingenuity of the Hispanic community.

The Strength of New Jersey’s Hispanic Community

While the contributions of Hispanics on a national level are impressive, the Garden State is home to a thriving Hispanic community that has a significant impact on the state’s economy and society.

Size: New Jersey has the 8th largest Hispanic population, and it’s growing. The community grew by nearly half a million people (447,431), which equates to a growth rate of 28.8% between 2010 and 2020 (compared to the state’s overall population growth rate of 5.7%).

Ethnic Diversity: A common misperception when engaging with the Hispanic community is that a shared language translates to shared cultural experiences. In contrast, it would be widely accepted to note that an American’s personal and professional drivers differ from our cousins in the U.K. It is equally true that communities from Cuba, Peru, and Colombia bring their own unique subcultures. When looking at New Jersey specifically, one sees we are not a monolith but, in fact, a mosaic with New Jersey being home to substantial concentrations of Dominican Americans, Puerto Rican Americans, Cuban Americans, Mexican Americans, Central Americans, Peruvian Americans, Colombian Americans, and Ecuadorian Americans. The “Little Lima” section of Paterson is home to the largest Peruvian population outside of South America.

Buying Power: New Jersey’s Hispanic community possesses substantial buying power, contributing $70 Billion in purchasing power to the NJ economy in 2021. Their spending habits have a ripple effect on local businesses and service providers.

A Celebration of Hispanics in New Jersey

From bustling Hispanic-owned businesses in cities like Newark, Jersey City, and Paterson to vibrant cultural festivals that showcase the rich tapestry of Hispanic heritage, New Jersey is a testament to the strength and resilience of this community.

The community’s commitment to education, entrepreneurship, and innovation is helping to shape the future of the state’s diversity, economic growth, and prosperity.

While Hispanic Heritage Month is an opportunity for all of us to celebrate the incredible contributions of the Hispanic community, it is important to acknowledge our impact beyond one month a year. Whether one is Hispanic or not, acknowledging and embracing this vital segment of our society is essential for businesses striving to maintain cultural relevance within their organizational culture and the communities they serve.


About Katherine O’Hara
Katherine O’Hara is the founder of The O’Hara Project, an integrated marketing firm that offers marketing, public relations, social media, and ideation services to a wide range of clients, including Fortune 500 companies, non-profits, and emerging entities. With national and global experience in building brands, Katherine has received over 200 industry and business awards, including Businesswoman of the Year by the Morris County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, a 40 Under 40 Winner by NJBIZ, the Penn State Distinguished Alumni Award, and recognition as a Top 25 Leading Women Entrepreneur by LWE.

As the daughter of Cuban exiles, Katherine grew up hearing firsthand how the kindness of social support was vital to her family’s ability to rebuild their lives. Consequently, The O’Hara Project has ingrained social good into its very core. The firm annually provides over $125,000 in pro bono services, with donated services totaling more than $1.5 million to date. Additionally, the firm has actively championed causes such as disabled veterans’ support, youth services, literacy programs, safe water initiatives, and more.

Katherine graduated from Penn State in 1992 with a BA in Graphic design and received her MBA from NYIT in 2006. She currently resides in New Jersey with her family, three poorly trained dogs, and believes that her mother’s flan recipe is the secret to world peace.