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The Immigrant Wave

Immigrant groups have always contributed to the momentum of American business, and today’s immigrants are no exception. In some cases, of course, immigrants gravitate toward starting business because they have not yet assimilated enough into American society to succeed in standard careers. Many come to the United States, however, with the idea of succeeding in business in a way that may be impossible in their home countries, because of poor economic conditions, societal limitations, or even repressive governments.

The immigrant spirit today contributes real energy to the American entrepreneurial environment. Immigrant businesses and real estate investment have stabilized and transformed many a declining neighborhood in America’s center cities. The immigrant presence in high-tech businesses in the country is substantial. Immigrant groups have transformed less complicated businesses as well; New York City’s 2,000 Korean-run fruit and vegetable stands have altered the lifestyle of the nation’s largest city, as just one example.

A 2008 study by the Small Business Administration estimated that immigrants are 30% more likely to start a new business than are non-immigrants. These range across the board from high-tech businesses down to the least sophisticated, from all varieties of retailing to a broad array of professional services. No single immigrant group dominates.

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