Why are so many Hispanics in rural areas of the state?

Why are so many Hispanics in rural Oklahoma communities like Guymon, Hennessey and Watonga? State, local and business leaders say it's all about jobs.
BY VALLERY BROWN vbrown@opubco.com Published: June 30, 2012
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Why are so many Hispanics in rural Oklahoma communities like Guymon, Hennessey and Watonga?

State, local and business leaders say it's all about jobs.

For example, Seaboard Foods, one of the largest pork producers and processors in the country, has about 2,000 production employees at its meat processing plant in Guymon. The company also has a nearby plant that turns leftover pig fat into biodiesel.

Patricia Fennell with the Latino Community Development Agency in Oklahoma City has long been an advocate for Latinos, encouraging them to pair their work ethic with education.

“As long as they are able to provide for their families, many in the community are willing to do these kinds of jobs,” Fennell said.

In other rural areas with high concentrations of Hispanics, these industries include agricultural jobs. The state's resurgent petroleum economy is also a lure, as well as jobs in construction, restaurants, hotels and support staff.

Watonga, in Blaine County, has seen its Hispanic population increase 47 percent since 2000. Agriculture and ranching are big businesses in the area, along with manufacturing and gypsum mining. Nearby Okeene also has a feed mill for Seaboard Foods.


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