Celebrating the Hispanic Community in Youngstown

By Amelia Mack

The Hispanic population in the Mahoning Valley is continuing to grow and thrive while – according to a recent PEW Research Center Article – the growth of the Hispanic population throughout the rest of the U.S. is slowing.

According to this article published on Sept. 8, the growth of the Hispanic population in the U.S. has been slowing since the beginning of the Great Recession.

“Between 2007 and 2014, the U.S. Hispanic population grew annually on average by 2.8 percent (its pace of growth has been an even slower 2.4 percent between 2010 and 2014). This was down from a 4.4 percent growth rate between 2000 and 2007 and down from 5.8 percent annually in the 1990s,” the article states.

The slowdown of this demographic’s growth is largely due to changes in immigration and birth rates.

The Mahoning Valley is a different story.

Jayne Catlos, a recent Youngstown State University graduate, just finished compiling months of research on the subject focused in the Youngstown area.

For her capstone project, Catlos looked at the spatial distribution of Hispanics across Mahoning and Columbiana County, starting with the history of how they got here.

“Historically, though there was a small population from Spain before, in the 1940s a few Puerto Rican migrants … settled in Campbell/Youngstown’s East side to work at the Youngstown Sheet and Tube Co. Chain migration led to more Puerto Ricans settling in this area,” Catlos said.

Catlos found it most interesting that when the steel industry left this area, there was an exodus of people, but the Hispanic population grew immensely from 1980 to 2000.

“Being U.S. citizens, they could have moved elsewhere in the states to find work, yet they stayed here. This is the mark of an ethnic enclave,” Catlos said. “There is a very well established community here. And unlike other ethnic groups that have since assimilated [Italians, Hungarians, Polish], the lack of fluency in English shows us the community is still growing and developing through the addition of new members.”

Catlos saw in her research that the greatest concentration of Hispanics is found within Youngstown and in Campbell with a smaller number towards the suburbs.

Mary Lou Reyes is the director of the Organizacion Civica y Cultural Hispana Americana, Inc., which provides social services to the community. Reyes said that about 90 percent of the people they help at OCCHA only speak Spanish.

“We’re getting a lot more multicultural Hispanics. At one time it was predominantly Mexicans and Puerto Ricans, but now we’re having a lot of other immigrants coming in,” Reyes said.

OCCHA has been involved the last few weeks with celebrating Hispanic Heritage month, which runs from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15.


Notable Latinos – Exhibit

Thursday, Sept. 15 – Friday, Oct. 14

YSU Maag Library

Hispanic Heritage Celebration – Main Event

Saturday, Oct. 8, 12-3 p.m.

YSU Kilcawley Center, Chestnut Room

OCCHA’s 44th Annual Fundraiser Gala

Friday, Nov. 4, 5:30–11 p.m.

Antone’s Banquet Center, 8578 Market St., Boardman

Tickets are $50 per person. For tickets and information call 330-822-GALA or email [email protected]