Saturday, February 18th, 2012
Presented by Council on Asian Pacific Minnesotans in Hmong American Partnership Community room
Hmong Population Statistics
History of Hmong People
Hmong is a group of people from the Northern Regions of Laos. During the Vietnam War, they fought under the Royal Laos Army and they received financial support from the US Central Intelligence Agency. Many Hmong were the persecuted remnants of a guerilla army trained and paid by the United States to fight a covert war in Laos from 1961-74 against communist Pathet Lao and North Vietnamese forces.General Vang Pao was the Region II commander of the Royal Laos Army which the CIA provided weapons and financial support. As the Vietnam War progress the power of the communist expansion in the Southeast Asia region was too much for the United States of American government to detain, it ordered American soldiers pulled out of Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia leaving thousand of soldiers and their family members vulnerable to the communist regimes. For the Hmong soldiers and their family members, there was a general understanding that the United States of America and its CIA would allow soldiers and their family members to take a refuge in America should Laos fall under communist controls.
When the Pathet Lao won and established a communist regime in 1975, hundreds of thousands of Laos, including many Hmong, fled to refugee camps in neighboring Thailand. The first wave of Hmong refugees arrived in America in 1976. In the 1980s, the Hmong had resettled through out the major cities in the United States. The mains stream Social Services systems had to learn how to respond to the needs of the newly arrived Hmong. Language and basic survival skills were identified as the greatest barrier of all for the New Americans. Many applied for public assistance and attended English as a Second Language classes.
Today's Hmong People
Hmong has contributed to the US economy. After 32 years of resettlement in the greatest country on earth, the majority of Hmong people have became self-sufficient. They are homeowners, investors, medical doctors, pharmacists, chiropractors, bankers, lawyers, teachers and school principals and politicians such as State Senator-Mee Moua of Minnesota. The Hmong people are consumers, tax payer and business owners. A large number of Hmong men and women have proven to be successful in other industries of real estate, mortgage, investment, insurance, restaurants, groceries and fashion-clothing stores and technology.
Hmong people are strong consumers of goods and services.
With the estimated of a large number of Hmong populations living in major cities across the US as cited above, these people have a strong demand for accessing to information on goods and services in their own language right in the comfort of their own homes. The abundance of utilizing today’s technology to showcase goods and services available for everyone to access shall be our priority.
Hmong's Buying Power in MN and WI in
12:17 AM, Sep 6, 2012 Boua Xiong
ST. PAUL, Minn. - Golden Harvest is a supermarket staple in East St. Paul. The Hmong-owned business sees roughly 1,000 transactions a day.
"When we first started there doesn't have much product let's just say that," said Fue Hawj, human resources manager for the store.
Since the store opened 10 years ago, it has seen added products, renovations and the hiring of more staff. Managers say they're not done yet.
"We look forward to expanding pretty soon in the next couple years," Hawj said.
They aren't the only ones trying to reach more customers. Big companies like McDonald's are too. But McDonald's latest attempt to attract more Hmong customers failed when they put up two billboards their target audience couldn't even read.
The billboards, located on University Avenue and Lexington Parkway and Payne and Bush Avenues, were supposed to read, "Coffee gets you up, breakfast gets you going," according to a statement from Gregg Miskiel, marketing director of McDonald's Midwest region.
However, Lee Pao Xiong, director of the center for Hmong Studies at Concordia University, said the mash up of words read more like "It's going to help you wake up and then the food will also help you get going."
Xiong said the choice of words isn't how most Hmong people speak. Xiong applauds McDonald's for reaching out and said while the translation wasn't a smart move the effort was. "You're realizing the buying power within our community," Xiong said.
In the 1980's roughly 60 percent of the Hmong community lived in poverty. Today that number has dropped drastically to an estimated 25 percent. The rise in wealth propelled the buying power of Hmong communities in Minnesota and Wisconsin to a combined $811 million, according to an analysis of census data by Dr. Bruce Corrie, dean of the College of Business and Organizational Leadership at Concordia.
That wealth has been missed by major companies but has helped small business like Golden Harvest thrive, according to Xiong.
"The community is no longer a refugee community but a working community," he said.
McDonald's has apologized for the error. The billboards will be replaced next week.
(Copyright 2012 by KARE. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)