Yankton is rolling out a special welcome mat this week, and given the current climate in this country, it’s a heartening local development.

The Connecting Cultures organization is teaming up with Music at the Meridian to present a Hispanic Cultural Celebration this Thursday at the Meridian Plaza. The event is the finale of the Music at the Meridian summer series and will feature the band Mariachi Nuevo Guanchinango. The evening will also include food vendors featuring menus, special beverages and family-oriented activities.

Recently, it’s become too easy or convenient to demonize outsiders, to lump the “legal” with the “illegal,” to assume, frankly, that anyone who is not like ourselves is basically here to leach off the U.S. — or so some rhetoric would indicate.

The Hispanic Heritage Celebration is an attempt to counter that negativity, as well as celebrate (and this is definitely worth appreciating) how welcoming this community can be.

It’s also an effort to area residents that migrant workers are actually needed in this area to make the local economy thrive.

Indeed, there has been talk for several years among local economic officials about the possibility of attracting “outside workers” to help fill the open jobs that local employers are confronting with increasing regularity.

Shortages in manpower are growing problems for employers, especially in sparsely populated regions such as rural areas. Unfilled jobs are unproductive, and that can spell the difference between a manufacturer thriving and growing, or that same manufacturer being unable to expand or even stay in that market.

That’s why migrant workers, who have been a staple in the nation’s ag economy for decades, are increasingly being seen as a viable option to fill those jobs.

Yankton is not immune to this, and the community has been drawing more Hispanic people to help fill those jobs. According to a recent census estimate, about 5 percent of Yankton County’s population is Hispanic or Latino. These workers are not, as some often charge, taking jobs away from “American” workers; if those workers were here and available, the need for an outside influx would never have materialized.

The Hispanic Heritage Celebration is a good way to connect two different cultures with a growing number of common bonds in this community. It’s a wise and practical outreach, and we hope many residents take advantage of this event.


(1) comment


Hallelujah! It's about time we recognize or acknowledge the need for a diverse culture. And of course, many will say 'they must be legal', well of course!, but as you can see with situations like in Nebraska and down south, employers rely upon these individuals to operate their multi-million dollar plants. We must face reality that our workforce needs will not be met by the local population. All over the country there is a workforce shortage. So what do we do?

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