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BILINGUAL WORKERS IN DEMAND

By Noelle Phillips, The State

When Hines Furniture opened on Two Notch Road last year, the managers realized they would be missing out if they did not hire a Spanish-speaking salesperson to help Latino customers.

“We didn’t have anybody here to make them feel comfortable and offer a positive shopping experience, said Joe Macedo, a Hines manager. “We felt it was important.”

Being new to the Columbia market and wanting a bilingual employee, Macedo turned to Agil Staff, an employment firm in Columbia that specializes in placing bilingual workers.

Agil Staff sent Angel Miranda, a retired soldier from Puerto Rico, to Hines. Now, Miranda is a full-time employee and the store’s top salesman.

Today, more Midlands companies are realizing they need Spanish-speaking employees to market themselves to an exploding Latino population.

The U.S. Census reported South Carolina’s Hispanic population grew more than 200 percent in 10 years. University of South Carolina researchers say Census figures are low, and they estimate 400,000 Latinos live in the state.

Latinos contribute to the state’s economy. A recent study by the USC Moore School of Business found that Mexican immigrants alone spend at least $3.5 billion annually.

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