TOPEKA: Latinx community fuels growing population
Topeka, Kansas, and the surrounding Shawnee County reached a historic high population in 2020. New Census numbers reveal that those who identify as Hispanic or Latino grew by nearly 24%, Topeka attracted approximately 2,000 new international immigrants and poverty rates in Topeka’s historically Hispanic neighborhoods were cut nearly in half. The city – led by Latina Mayor Michelle De La Isla – has seen immigrants drive business creation, fuel innovation and strengthen its middle class. Although Latinx people comprise only 15% of the city, 40% of Topeka’s City Council is made up of Hispanic individuals, including Mayor De La Isla and Deputy Mayor Mike Padilla. El Centro de Topeka, a Greater Topeka Partnership program that promotes equality for the Hispanic community, supports Topeka’s Hispanic-owned businesses. The response to the Covid-19 crisis also included the launch of ApoyarTopeka.com, a Spanish-language resource for businesses and residents. Washburn Tech East, a $6M extension campus of Washburn University, opened in 2019 to provide the region’s Hispanic community with access to career training, ESL classes and GED support. Finally, Hispanic heritage is immersed throughout happenings in Topeka. The East 6th business district includes 30 vibrant Spanish-language restaurants, retailers and bars. Topeka CVB is among the first Midwestern cities to make its visitor’s guide available in Spanish, detailing events like Fiesta Mexicana, one of the Midwest’s largest Mexican heritage festivals. For more information, visit https://www.topekapartnership.com/.