Collier/Lee: Hispanic Significant Population Growth
The U.S. Census Bureau reported a large increase in the Hispanic population between the years 2000 and 2010. In Collier County the increase was from 49,296 to 83,177. That was a 68.7 percent increase. Significant. The increase in Lee County is even more stunning. In Lee County the increase was from 42,042 to 113,308, a 169.5 percent increase!
Compared to the overall increase in population for both Collier and Lee Counties, the Hispanic representation is dramatically greater in both counties. In Collier County the overall population increased from 251,377 to 321,520. Now in Collier County Hispanic representation is 25.8 percent of the population. In Lee County the overall population increased from 440,888 to 618,754. Now in Lee County Hispanic representation is 18.3 percent of the population. Hypothetically, at the rate Hispanics are growing in Collier County, the next census could measure Hispanic growth representing almost half of the total population in Collier County.
Both counties’ businesses are recognizing the increase in the Hispanic population for the first time in history as implied by the quote from Hispanic American Business Alliance’s Leonardo Garcia,
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.
Susan Acuña of the Literacy Council Gulf Coast sees that Hispanics shop the market in demand to learn English. Even when the economy is down, especially in construction, Hispanics desire to improve their marketable skills for potential employers. Hispanics increased enrollment to learn English at 181.1 percent over 10 years. According to Acuña,
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.