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Hispanic Yellow Pages growing with community

A local insurance agent says he never expected much of a response 15 years ago when he purchased a business-card-size ad in the first edition of the Hispanic Yellow Pages.

After all, the Hispanic community then "wasn't a big influence," says Tyler Anderson, co-owner of ASA Insurance. But, he says, the $45 ad paid for itself within a week.

The Hispanic Yellow Pages recently celebrated its 15th anniversary, and Anderson has bought an ad every year since then. His business now markets primarily to Hispanic consumers.

After his first ad appeared, he says, "it just bloomed from that."

Ana Maria Fereday, owner of Hispanic Media Services, which publishes the business directory, says she first realized the need for such a directory when her parents immigrated from Peru and had trouble finding even basic services like a dentist.

"Before, there was nothing," she says. "I was reading in English. There was nothing in Spanish."

So she approached businesses and pitched the idea of a business directory aimed at Spanish speakers. In 1992, she published the first Hispanic Yellow Pages.

That first directory had just 32 pages, Fereday says. But the directory has steadily grown over the years and is now 324 pages, with three regional editions, and an online version: www.hispanic-yellow-pages.com, reaching from Cache County to Utah County, and extending to Price.

The directory has grown along with the state's Hispanic community. In 1990, the Census counted 84,600 Hispanic residents in the state. In 2006, a Census survey estimated the Hispanic population at more than 286,000.

Patricia Dark, executive director of the Utah Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, says the directory helps connect businesses with Hispanic residents who often move frequently and can be hard to target with advertising.

Today, Dark says, Hispanic entrepreneurs have more of a support system in Utah. The Hispanic Chamber and Utah Latin American Chamber of Commerce provide assistance to new and developing businesses.

"We have Hispanic and non-Hispanic business owners there to support the start ups and mentor them," she says. "It's crucial for them to get the support of the community."

Today, most companies are reaching out more to Hispanic consumers, often through Hispanic media outlets. Several Spanish-language publications are now in business across the state, along with Spanish-language television and radio.

The climate was different 15 years ago, when Fereday began publishing the phone directory.

Her advice for entrepreneurs who now see a niche that needs to be filled? "I would say have faith in your product and develop it. Be positive."


E-mail: dbulkeley@desnews.com