COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Central Ohio is seeing a big population jump, with companies like Intel and Honda announcing their arrival. For the last few decades, there has been a steady and fast growth in a certain demographic in the state and in Columbus.
The Hispanic population in Ohio has more than doubled since 2000, according to the Ohio Department of Development. For some Latinos living in Columbus, they say they’ve seen that change right before their eyes.
“We’re all over the place now, we’re in bigger, we’re in more communities, we’re in more spaces,” Columbus artist Ariel Peguero said. “When I first got here, I feel like there wasn’t really a Latino voice in the art community.”
Peguero has lived in Columbus for years and now he is using his artwork to share his culture and passion.
“In the last 10, 15 years, it’s really, really changed and the community has gotten really big, and it’s great and it’s humbling to be a part of it now and I can finally see myself kind of immersed in it and creating new forms of it,” Peguero said.
Watch the NBC4 special “Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month” in the video player below.
One of his latest pieces is downtown as a part of the Short North Summer Spray. He’s not the only one who has seen the area become more diverse.
“My dad had the first Latino food store in Columbus in the 80s when I was a kid, and so now, I mean, it’s hard to go a block in any direction in any side of the city of Columbus and the surrounding areas without running into a food truck, a business, a store, something that is owned by Latinos,” Columbus City Councilmember Lourdes Barroso de Padilla said.
The latest numbers from the US Census Bureau show that Columbus’ Latino population is at 6.5%. However, Barroso de Padilla said it’s probably much higher.
“We know that not everyone is counted in the U.S. Census or counted properly, right, so we actually are probably a little bit more in the 8 to 10% according to some like projections that we know from Latino-serving organizations,” Barroso de Padilla said.
“Just in the last few years, I can really see the difference,” Peguero said. “Like there’s a lot of my colleagues, Latino colleagues, I see them as these board members now. Or they’re running their own nonprofits or they’re teaching in their own spaces.”
Sunday was the last day of the Latino Heritage Month celebrations in Columbus and the past few weeks have been filled with events. There was a parade a market that highlighted Latino businesses, and an art show.