St. Joseph`s growing hispanic population pushes businesses to learn a sign of the times. According to a national census, in the last decade, the hispanic population has grown nearly 58 percent. Local businesses across the board are learning to "habla espaņol." Stopping stereotypes and speaking spanish are two goals of the St. Joseph Area Chamber of Commerce`s lunch and learn series. Nearly 20 local businesses ranging from the YMCA to Heartland Health and Prudential Summers real estate want working knowledge of the Midland`s growing second language. "We`re seeing a huge need for folks who are wanting to learn to speak spanish. I`ve had over 75 businesses who have contacted me on their own in order to be able to offer something to their clients to be able to meet those needs," Peggy Ellis, Western Institute business instructor, says. "We`ve been having spanish phrases at our sales meetings," Jerry Arnold, Prudential Summers sales associate, says. "We`re trying to find translators to translate our handbooks," Hillary Minks, YMCA staff member, says. Ellis gives businesses basic tools to begin communicating with spanish-speakers. She says 2000`s census shows a 20 percent growth of hispanics in Buchanan County alone, and she believes that number has likely doubled by now. Teresa Noyes, a nurse and spanish translator for Heartland Regional Medical Center, says she`s called to interpret health questions more often. "Last year I maybe got called once every 90 days, seems now it`s monthly--at least once a month," Noyes says. Minks hangs a user-friendly sign on the YMCA`s sauna door. "We want to make sure we use their language the way it`s supossed to be used so we are fully knowledgable of what we`re trying to convey to them," Minks says. Minks says she has seen an increase of hispanics using the y`s facilitie, partly because of a partnership with Triumph Foods. "We do have a program that their children are welcome into, and showing them our benefits and how we can help them out," Minks says. Prudential Summers real estate has had a few calls about housing but expects a boom within the year. "We`re thinking on the market and preparing ahead of time," Arnold says. "This is our community now and we`re embracing it," Minks says. With that embrace, businesses hope to hold the new community closer together. Ellis says simple pleasantries like please and thank you go a long way to make hispanics feel welcome.