David Castillo has seen the city change over the past decade. As president of the Greater Oklahoma City Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, what census data shows in numbers, Castillo sees on the streets of the city and the businesses flourishing there.
“The growth is continuing and will continue for a long time,” Castillo said.
Along SW 29 and other main thoroughfares on the city's south side, mom-and-pop Hispanic businesses are thriving — restaurants, automotive repair shops, markets and barbershops. Castillo said that in 2008 there were 150 members of the chamber. Today, there are nearly 400.
Why OKC is attractive
According to U.S. Census Bureau data, the Hispanic community in Oklahoma City grew 95 percent between 2000 and 2010 to just more than 110,000. The Hispanic population in Edmond boomed by 120 percent from about 1,900 in 2000 to over 4,100 in 2010. To the south, Moore's Hispanic population grew 134 percent over the same time period to 4,900. Norman's 10-year growth rate was 90 percent to about 7,100.
The census defines Hispanic or Latino as a person of Cuban, Mexican, Puerto Rican, South or Central American, or other Hispanic culture or origin, regardless of race.
Castillo said low unemployment, low cost of living and an abundance of churches make the Oklahoma City area an attractive spot for Hispanics.
As the state's largest metropolitan area, there are a host of jobs and opportunities.
“It is a great place to raise your family and is in the center of the country,” Castillo said. “There are many types of jobs and businesses here.”
In Edmond, where the Hispanic population increased by 120 percent over a decade, schools have increased their English language learners programs.
“There were no ELL teachers in the Edmond district in the year 2000,” said Edmond Schools spokeswoman Susan Parks-Schlepp. “Since then, one to two teachers have been added each year.”
While there has been an increase in Hispanic students enrolling in the district, Asians make up about 40 percent of students learning English in the district, Parks-Schlepp said.
The Hispanic population in Warr Acres grew 171 percent to 2,030, making it a city with one of the fastest growing Hispanic populations in the metro area.
Jill McCartney, with the Northwest City Chamber of Commerce, pointed to many Hispanic-owned businesses in the area along with the availability of well-priced housing.
“Our whole community is becoming more culturally diverse,” she said. “The Hispanic population is growing here, but it's growing across the community.”
Moore's Hispanic population was the second fastest in the metro area at 134 percent. The city's Hispanic population grew from about 2,100 in 2000 to 4,900 in 2010.
Patricia Fennell, with the Latino Community Development Agency, said much of the growth is among the younger generations of the population. High birthrates among Hispanic women also contribute.
“Immigration is a part of it, but it's not the whole thing,” Fennell said.
Like other parts of the population, when jobs leave an area, workers often pick up and move to other places where friends or families members can help them find employment.
“Employment is the magnet,” she said.