Mexican American Culture Weekly
Since publishing his first 16-page edition of Lazo Cultural in November 2001 in Grand Rapids and Holland, Garcia has extended his idea across the state. Lazo Cultural today circulates within the Hispanic communities in Muskegon, Fennville, Kalamazoo, Lansing, Pontiac and Detroit.
In forming Lazo Cultural, the 38-year-old Garcia wanted to provide a weekly newspaper written specifically for a Mexican-American audience, rather than a broader Hispanic readership and its varying cultures. A native of Merida, on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, Garcia saw a market for a Mexican publication.
“It’s our kind of writing,” said Garcia, who came to the United States 13 years ago and became an American citizen five years ago. “I identify with them. They’re my people.”
For his success at Lazo Cultural, Garcia was named the recipient of the Entrepreneurial Success Award in the 2004 Minority Business Awards sponsored by the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce.
With a circulation of 10,000, Lazo Cultural today typically runs 28 pages to 44 pages each week focused on news, events, culture, arts, entertainment and sports in each local market in which it circulates, as well as similar types of stories from Mexico.
The publication is geared toward what Garcia and his staff consider “good news,” mostly stories about people and events, as well as a story about a “business of the week.”
To advertisers, Garcia says Lazo Cultural offers a vehicle to the Mexican-American community in each local market. That includes both Mexican American-owned businesses and companies that want to serve that population.
“I help them get to the readers the way I know to get to them,” Garcia said.
Garcia came to the United States in the fall of 1991 when he visited Grand Rapids with a friend who was serving as a missionary in Merida. At the time he only planned to spend a couple weeks in Grand Rapids.
Michigan’s fall weather, with the colors of the turning leaves, and an early snowfall fascinated Garcia, who decided to stay.
“I just came to visit here but I just got to love it here,” Garcia said. “I made my life here.”
Garcia worked as production manager for another Grand Rapids publication, El Hispano, handling page layout and design and “a little bit of everything” that came with working at a small business.
After eight years, he founded Lazo Cultural. “I felt a need to start my own publication with my own ideas,” he said.
Those ideas include using freelance staff, with sales representatives and writers in each market he targets, and making good use of technology. Garcia works out of his home where lays out pages and transmits them to a printer in Mt. Pleasant. The structure enables him to avoid the overhead of a permanent office.
The strategy helped Garcia, after starting in Grand Rapids and Holland, to quickly take Lazo Cultural to Fennville in central Allegan County and, a year later, to the Muskegon and Kalamazoo markets. The paper began circulating in Lansing earlier this year and Garcia started publishing in Detroit and the suburb of Pontiac in September.
Garcia wants to take the publication to other markets in Michigan and expand circulation. He also plans to put more emphasis on selling Lazo Cultural as a vehicle for non-Hispanic businesses to use to market to Mexican Americans and Hispanics.