Immigrant Entrepreneurs in Wichita
June is Immigrant Heritage Month in the United States, a time to celebrate our heritage as a nation of immigrants and to reflect on all the contributions many immigrants have made and continue to contribute to our country.
History of Immigrants in Wichita
Wichita has a rich history of welcoming immigrants.
As stated by the Kansas Historical Society, this land first welcomed Native Americans. Following the civil war, African Americans began to move to Wichita seeking better lives. By the end of the 1800s, German-speaking people formed the largest group of new immigrants to Kansas. Mexican workers came to Wichita during the construction of the railroads.
Nowadays, immigrants continue to see Wichita as a place for opportunities. They do not come alone, they bring their culture, food, talents and contribute to the growth of the city in many ways.
Here are just a few examples of immigrants who are forging their own paths as entrepreneurs in our community.
Eddie Sandoval: Pinole Blue
Eddie Sandoval, a young entrepreneur, who recently graduated from WSU, is the son of immigrants from Chihuahua. He grew up traveling to Mexico twice a year and learned of Pinole early in his life.
Pinole is a recipe that originated with the Aztecs, in which you roast corn and grind it into a powder. The benefits and nutrients in Pinole are very rich. His family has drank Pinole for generations and brought it with them from Mexico.
After growing up with this tradition, and reading the book “Born to Run”, Eddie had the idea of making Pinole available in the U.S. and started his own business named Pinole Blue.
Now he works hard to promote this product and its distribution has extended to other states like Colorado, Nebraska and Oklahoma.
Eddie said he understands the importance of his college education to achieve his goals and values his parents sacrifice to seek a better future for him.
“As a son of immigrants, I do feel pressured to make sure I am successful because of their support," Eddie said. "I know I will always have their support.”
Angie Amaro: AB&C Bilingual Resources
Angie Amaro is an immigrant who came to the U.S. at a very young age and graduated from a Wichita High School.
She and her sisters started an interpreting and translation company, AB&C Bilingual Resources LLC. They are passionate about creating bridges between cultures in Wichita.
“As an immigrant, I think there are so many things we learn when arriving in a new country, but also there are many things people can learn from us, thus enriching our city," Angie said.
"We don’t want language to be a barrier to share and learn from each other.”
Jocelyn Galicia: Mobile Car Tune
Mobile Car Tune is a company that provides mobile auto detailing and maintenance for vehicle owners who don’t have time to sit in waiting rooms. Mobile Car tune goes into clients' homes, business, workplaces, etc.
Owner Jocelyn Galicia is the daughter of immigrants from Zacatecas, Mexico. Jocelyn started her business as a Freshman at WSU.
She said she was inspired by her parents who have done a lot to overcome economic and social challenges to give their kids a better life.
"There are not many Hispanic women entrepreneurs," Jocelyn said. "I am going to grow my business to set an example for other Hispanic women. I want them to be inspired by my story, and to know that anything is possible."
Juan Carlos Renteria: Compadres Mexican Grill
When we talked about Mexican food, we think of Tacos and burritos, but the authentic taste of Mexico is something not everybody can achieve.
Juan Carlos Renteria, owner of Los Compadres Mexican Grill, and his partner Jaime Martinez bring Mexico to Wichita with the food they serve. Their mission is to become the best Mexican Restaurant in Wichita.
Juan Carlos arrived from Durango Mexico at age four with his parents. He remembers how they crossed the river pursuing a better life. His mother taught him how to cook. When he eventually lived by himself, his mother would share her special recipes with him over the phone. Those recipes were passed along in his family from his great-grandmother.
Juan Carlos proudly shared, “I love to do EVERYTHING with passion. Give back to my community and support as much as I can.”
With more than 30 employees and always striving for the best service, Los Compadres Mexican Grill creates opportunities in Wichita and contributes to the new wave of entrepreneurs working hard to improve the city’s life. Stop in for lunch or dinner at 3827 West 13th St North.
According to the American Immigration Council, more than 13 percent of the nation’s residents are foreign-born. All of them come from diverse backgrounds across the globe. One in eight U.S. residents are immigrants, while one in nine residents are native-born U.S. citizens with at least one immigrant parent.
Immigrants in the U.S., and in Kansas, are concentrated at both ends of the educational spectrum. Based on research from 2015, more than one in four adult immigrants have a college degree or more education, while almost the same share had less than a high school diploma.
Nearly one in six U.S. workers are immigrants, making immigrants a vital part of the country’s labor force in a range of industries.
In Kansas, more than seven percent of residents are immigrants. One in ten workers in Kansas are immigrants. Immigrant-led households in the state paid $960.6 million in federal taxes and $405.8 million in state and local taxes in 2014. According to AmericanProgress.org, Latinos and Asians command close to $9.8 billion in combined purchasing power in Kansas.
The impact that immigrants have is significant.
Just look at Jhannely Esparza, who just graduated from High School this year. She has been accepted to attend Kansas State University. She will be the first one in her family to attend college.
She values the sacrifices her paternal and maternal grandmothers made when they brought their children to the U.S. fleeing violence and seeking a better future.
"My family has taught me to be well mannered, respectful and humble," Jhannely said. "They have taught me things that no years at a high-class school will ever teach. They have taught me to appreciate everything and given me the privilege to have a good education and safe life and provided me with the basics needed to live. Although they are not from this country, they have tried their best to help many people in whatever way they can. They have contributed their time and money to help the economy. My dad especially has worked extremely hard to help my family and provide what we need.”