New study on immigrant entrepreneurship documents contribution to the U.S. economy

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Immigration Policy Center of the American Immigration Council (IPC) in Washington, D.C. published a paper written by The ILC Public Education Institute Director Marcia Hohn. Titled “Immigrant Entrepreneurs: Creating Jobs and Strengthening the Economy,” the paper details the contributions of immigrant entrepreneurs and provides policy recommendations to increase the pool of immigrant entrepreneurs who can help boost sagging U.S. employment and economic growth.

Immigrant Entrepreneurs: Creating Jobs and Strengthening the EconomyThe launch took place on January 25, 2012, via tele-briefing. The paper is available here on The ILC website.

As noted in the paper, it has long been established that immigrant entrepreneurs help to drive the economy. Eighteen percent of Fortune 500 companies from Big Lots to Google were founded by immigrants.

At the launch, Dr. Hohn noted that “immigrant-owned growth businesses are hugely important to strengthening local economies as well as providing jobs essential to economic recovery. The U.S. Small Business Association estimates that small businesses have generated 64% of the net new jobs over the past 15 years and credits immigrant businesses with a significant contribution to this job growth.”

Yet restrictive U.S. immigration policies coupled with competition from other countries are forcing out immigrant entrepreneurs, many of whom were educated and trained here.

According to Ben Johnson, executive director of the American Immigration Council, “Regardless of one’s school of thought, there is very little disagreement among researchers and experts that immigrant entrepreneurship is a powerful and valuable asset to America’s economic future.”

He further explained, “While much is made of the high-tech, highly educated immigrant entrepreneur, this report reinforces that it is less about your degree or the product you produce and far more about recognizing a need in your community and having the skills and commitment to bring a dream to life.”

In the paper, Dr. Hohn writes that it is critical to understand “the range of contributions that immigrant entrepreneurs make at every level of business enterprise…revitalizing neighborhoods, fueling growth industries, advancing technology and facilitating transnational business.”

The report offers a comprehensive look at each of these areas of immigrant entrepreneurship and provides real-life examples from the Institute’s research and other studies from across the country.

Randy Johnson, senior vice president of Labor, Immigration, and Employee Benefits at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce said of the report, “We hope that the report’s findings will spur positive discussions regarding immigration reform but also provide new fuel for those already ongoing.”

To read more, view the full paper here.

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