GREEN BAY AREA REGIONAL NEWS: Brown County

Hispanic-owned business explosion happening in northeast Wisconsin

Hispanic Heritage Month

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) — Northeast Wisconsin is not often viewed as being diverse, but that would be an oversight.

Tucked away on Madison Street in downtown Green Bay, Casa Alba has a mission. Roughly translated, the center means “home” and “dawn,” for a new beginning.

“They may need housing. They may need a job. They may need clothing,” said executive assistant Maria Plascencia. She is the center’s first line of defense for people looking for any of those things, and much more.

Of the roughly 265,000 people that call Brown County home, around 30,000 of them identify as Hispanic in some way.

“It leaves behind the stereotype that Brown County had before that it was mainly an Anglo-community it was focused on,” said Rogelio Contreras, project coordinator for WELLO in Green Bay. “This takes off that stereotype.”

In the last decade, the Hispanic population has exploded in the area.

“I am happy that I have places where I can go to choose tortillas from one place and can use a cactus from another place, which before was one or two stores,” said Plascencia.

Supermercado El Local is a family affair. The supermarket in Green Bay, 1209 E. Mason St., specializes in Mexican food and fare.

“(People) are looking for something that is home,” said Antonio Soto, who works for his family’s store.

The Soto family began that shop 10 years ago. It has since expanded to now include another location, and a restaurant.

“I actually didn’t want to work for the business, but going through everything and learning through my own path and coming back and helping him out, I think really opened up my eyes to the potential,” told Soto.

It’s one small business doing its part to be more inclusive for all.

“This just makes a huge difference. It is important for the city of Green Bay, for Brown County, for everyone that is trying to create that American dream,” Contreras said.

Casa Alba provides a lot of resources, including immigration, insurance counseling, as well as applying for citizenship. You can learn more about the work it does on its website.

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