Council on Foreign Relations
September 13, 2012
CFR’s Renewing America initiative just released a new report by Alexandra Starr, a fellow at the New America Foundation, titled “Latino Immigrant Entrepreneurs: How to Capitalize on Their Economic Potential.” Through statistics and personal stories, the report explores Latino immigrant entrepreneurs’ growing contributions to the U.S. economy.
Contrary to many who assume Latino immigrants just take away American jobs, Hispanic immigrants have played an important role in helping to revive small U.S. towns. While many come to find work, they often create the positions themselves, opening up new restaurants, storefronts, and services that line small-town Main Streets. Big cities are no different. In fact, almost half of New York City’s small businesses are immigrant-run. The report finds that immigrant entrepreneurs often have a distinct advantage due their ability to understand and work within both the United States and their home countries, allowing them to appeal not only to immigrant communities within the U.S. but also to export markets back home. Due in part to these benefits (as well as geography), Mexican immigrants have taken the entrepreneurial lead, starting more new companies (in sheer number) than any other immigrant group. On average Hispanic-run enterprises are small, though 16 percent employ between one and twenty employees (similar to 21 percent of non-immigrant-run small businesses).