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Hispanic and Latino populations are Mecklenburg County's fastest-growing ethnic community

Data from the 2020 Census shows those who self-identified as Hispanic or Latino make up the fastest-growing ethnic population in Mecklenburg County.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Hispanic and Latino population made up the largest ethnic population growth in Mecklenburg County, according to newly-released data from the 2020 Census.

The number of Latinos in Mecklenburg County grew by 52% in the past 10 years, the data showed. The population of Black residents grew by about 20% and 7% for white residents.

"We're not very surprised because Camino has been here for 20 years we've seen the Latino population, the Hispanic population grow," Lennin Caro, a research assistant for the Camino Health Center said.

The Camino Health Center provides resources for the Latin community. Caro believes more people are moving to the Charlotte area because of the opportunities. 

"If you think about the city of Charlotte, it's been a beacon of light, beacon of hope, it's an economically resilient city, we believe this attracts a lot of hard-working Hispanics who want to take a shot at the American dream," Caro said. 

Caro also says a bigger population means more say on topics that impact the community. The Camino Community Center will also be surveying Mecklenburg County residents in September to see what the needs of the community are. 

"Latinos have disproportionate access to medical care, disproportionate to behavioral health services, dealing with food insecurity," Caro said.

Meanwhile, La Caseta, a popular food stall at Camp North End, is serving Latin Street Food made from diverse family traditions. 

"Food is one of the friendliest ways to invite people to get to know your culture," Miriam Espaillat, owner of La Caseta, said.

From the pupusas to the specialty soft drinks, culture is the heart and soul of Miriam Espaillat's people. 

"It's amazing to be able to share our stories, we have employees who are from Mexico, Venezuela-- they've been huge helping us create our menus," Espaillat said.

Espaillat says the new Census data gives Latin owned businesses the opportunity to embrace and grown the Latin culture in Mecklenburg County

"A lot of us immigrate to this country looking for opportunities and families have found opportunity here," Espaillat said. 

The countywide population, which makes up the City of Charlotte, and the seven other towns of Cornelius, Davidson, Huntersville, Matthews, Mint Hill, Pineville, and Stallings, grew by a total of 190,728 people.

Charlotte, meanwhile, appeared on the Census list of 14 U.S. cities that gained more than 100,000 people over the last decade. Charlotte added more than 140,000 people, according to the data.

RELATED: 'It certainly isn't a surprise' | Census data shows growth in CLT, decline in rural areas

Now, the Census numbers will be used by states to redraw political maps. The Census data confirmed the state is getting another congressional district, which means a revised district map could guide who votes for which state and federal politicians until 2030. 

Legislators have to decide where to draw the lines and where the new district will be, which can influence how public resources are allocated, from where schools are built to which roads get fixed. 

This year, Republicans will lead the process since they hold the majority in the General Assembly.   

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