Latinos have had some success starting new businesses in southern Maine. The 1997 U.S. Census Bureau’s Economic Census reported that Maine had 545 Latino-owned businesses, which employed 677 workers. Most of these businesses are in the service industry, and two of the more prominent types of businesses are beauty salons and house-cleaning services.7 La Bodega Latina is one of the largest and most visible Latino businesses in the state. It was started by a
Dominican migrant in Portland in 1997. The market specializes in Latino products from different Latin American countries. With its success, the owner started a restaurant with the same name in 2004. With Portland being home to a minor league baseball team that has a number of Latino baseball players, La Bodega Latina has become a favorite meeting place for Latinos in the area.
Latinos have received help from nonprofit organizations in starting new businesses. Costal Enterprises, a local community development agency, sponsors Start Smart, a program that provides technical assistance for migrants and refugees who are starting new businesses. The program started by assisting the owners of Tu Casa, a Salvadoran restaurant in Portland, who opened their restaurant out of their home in 1999. The owners received assistance initially from Start Smart’s staff members, who helped with the permitting and licensing process and the establishing of good accounting procedures. This service proved invaluable for the owners of Tu Casa to make their business the thriving restaurant it is today.
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