October 2, 2012
Immigrant entrepreneurs have always had a significant impact on U.S. culture and economy, and that continues to be true today. Immigrants started 28% of all new U.S. businesses in 2011, despite accounting for just 12.9% of the U.S. population, according to “Open For Business: How Immigrants Are Driving Small Business Creation In The United States”, a report published in August by The Partnership for a New American Economy.
Our own ranking of America’s wealthiest makes the point as well: 29 members of The Forbes 400 (full list below) are immigrants including four new entrants. Pakistan-born Shahid Khan, for instance, came to the U.S. at age 16, with $500 that his father had scrimped together, to study engineering. He is now CEO of auto parts manufacturer Flex-N-Gate and the new owner of the Jacksonville, Jaguars. “You can do anything you want to do (in America),” Khan told Forbes earlier this year. “You have to work hard, you have to create your own luck, and you have to have some luck also. But here, it’s possible.”
But the American Dream isn’t what it used to be for non-natives, say other billionaires. “The U.S. used to be the best place for new business,” says 5-Hour Energy creator Manoj Bhargava, who moved to the U.S. from India, “Now it has competition and, in fact, some places are now better. The most dangerous issue is the perception, true or not, that we are getting worse.”