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By Helping Others, La Oficina Owners Help Themselves

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RALEIGH, N.C. — The latest U.S. census shows that in the past 20 years, the Hispanic population in Raleigh has grown tenfold.

One local business capitalized on growth and, despite a down economy, is thriving.

If the key to being a successful entrepreneur is a good idea, Pedro Perez is onto something.

"The problems for Hispanics began to grow and grow," Perez said. "And there was no one who could provide solutions. Spanish: Empazaron a crecer y a crecer los problemas Hispanos. Y no habia una persona que le diera solucion."

So Pedro came up with the solution. It is called La Oficina. The services range from hooking up a satellite dish, to sending pakages to Latin America, to money tranfers.

The idea began with the family's own experience when they first arrived here.

Perez's wife, Maritza Hurtado, was a lawyer in Colombia and took a serious pay cut to live in America.

"I cleaned houses," she said. "I did babysitting, cut the yards."

But over the last 20 years, Hurtado learned to speak English, and, more importantly, she learned the system. Now she uses what she knows to help clients do things like pay taxes and buy car insurance.

While a lagging economy forced some businesses to downsize, La Oficina grew 400 percent in its four years of business.

"It is hard work," Hurtado said. "But at the same time, it is honest, hard and if you follow the procedure, follow the rules of the state and the country, everything is fine."

By helping others, they have helped themselves.

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