Hispanic-owned businesses contribute more than 650,000 jobs and more than $100 billion annually to the California economy, which makes them fundamental to the prosperity of one of the nation's largest states.

"Hispanic businesses are vital for the California economy," Hugo Merida, president of the Los Angeles Metropolitan Hispanic Chambers of Commerce, told Efe.

California, with some 38 million inhabitants, of whom 39 percent are of Hispanic origin - the same percentage as Anglos - is among the world's top economic powers, ahead of countries like Mexico and Spain and at the same level as Italy and Russia, according to figures provided by the Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy.

Merida noted the importance of money spent with Latino businesses by the approximately 14 million Latino consumers.

"Hispanics buy from Hispanic businesses like stores and restaurants because what they consume is not provided by other companies," he said.

The California Hispanic Chambers of Commerce, together with the Haas Business School at the University of California, Berkeley, recently published a study showing there are some 700,000 businesses created or owned by Latinos, which contribute some 650,000 jobs to the California economy.

"In Los Angeles County alone we estimate there are approximately 200,000 Hispanic businesses," Merida said.

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