Manuel Casiano made the Inc. 500 a few years back on his way to building a publishing mini-empire in Puerto Rico. Now, Casiano Communications Inc. has $12 million in sales and five successful publications, and Casiano is coming north, hoping to capitalize on the exploding Hispanic market in the continental United States with Imagen, a kind of Spanish-language Town and Country.

So far, the circulation numbers of the magazine's continental edition are beautiful -- up to 50,000 just seven months after launch. The demographic numbers are compelling, as the Hispanic population here continues to increase five times as fast as the general population. The numbers on Hispanic spending power are pretty near breathtaking: Hispanic-targeted advertising is expected to jump 40% annually for the next five years.

Indeed, the only numbers that are missing are the ones with dollar signs in front of them. Casiano is confronting a cultural gap that didn't exist in Puerto Rico: advertisers know they should be addressing the Hispanic market, but their advertising agencies don't know how. So Casiano plans to conduct agency seminars on the Hispanic market.

Today, Madison Ave. Tomorrow, el mundo.

-- Ellyn E. Spragins