Sometimes the Answer Is That Simple

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SPRINGDALE, Ark. - Don't overlook the obvious when exploring reasons for the recent Hispanic population explosion in northwest Arkansas, Jose Gomez told me.

Gomez, a campaign organizer for the Reform Immigration for America campaign, says he once found himself laughing while looking into a similar Hispanic population boom in New Hampshire. Professors were undertaking scientific, complex studies to find out why Hispanics were moving there. But he knew the answer when he stopped at a McDonald's employing Hispanics --and still hiring. Starting positions were $12 an hour. Other businesses, Gomez said, had similarly high pay for unskilled positions. The new residents saw a lucrative opportunity in New Hampshire and took it.

For one answer to 'Why northwest Arkansas?', Gomez says, check the local real estate ads. As a renter in College Park, Md., I Immediately understood after opening today's Arkansas Democrat Gazette. I recently paid $525 a month to live with three others in an apartment with one bathroom and no dishwasher or laundry appliances. But two-bedroom apartments and townhouses within walking distance of the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, Ark., are going for $450 a month. It's not the only reason Hispanics are choosing to make northwest Arkansas their home, but it shouldn't be overlooked. 

-- Will Skowronski