By Kassidy Arena, Iowa Public Radio
Even though the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed business in certain industries, it also brought a “boom” for the housing market.
Himar Hernandez, the assistant program director of community and economic development at Iowa State University Extension and Outreach, said the Latino entrepreneurs he has worked with are noticing the increased need for homes, especially in smaller communities. And they’re going into construction to match that need.
“What I’ve seen is people who have been working in another field, in a meat plant or some other field, and they see all of a sudden there’s a demand for this type of work. They’re passionate about it. They have the knowledge. And so it’s an opportunity,” Hernandez said.
The overall number of construction jobs in Iowa has slightly decreased over the past month, which is why Hernandez and his colleagues have said many are going into the field independently.
ISU Extension and Outreach’s retail specialist for the community and economic development program Victor Oyervides said he has seen many Latinos signing up as subcontractors because bigger companies are reducing their personnel.
“They want to start up their business and they would have their own business but work under the contracts of the bigger construction company. They would send business to the smaller Latino/a/x construction companies,” Oyervides said.
Although construction costs are higher than in the past, Oyervides and Hernandez expect those expenses to even out.
“The construction market is so volatile right now, with prices through the roof,” Hernandez explained. “But I think the need is out there in terms of building homes, especially with home building and repairs damage, there seems to be a need out there. And I think we all know that there’s a housing crisis out there in terms of the availability of houses in smaller communities.”
Hernandez added he was surprised to find many of his clients who already had cash “cushions” to start out their business with. He encouraged anyone, Latino or not, to use the free resources his office provides, especially pertaining to opening new businesses.