Harnessing Immigrant Small Entrepreneurship for Economic Growth

March 1, 2015

Immigrant-owned small businesses generate $776 billion in business activity and sustain 4.7 million employees — 14 percent of all workers employed by U.S. small business owners. While 13 percent of the U.S. population was born outside the United States, 18 percent of small business owners are foreign-born. But there are few specific policies at the national or local levels supporting the potential of immigrant small entrepreneurs to reduce poverty and spur economic growth.

This report identifies challenges for small immigrant entrepreneurs and promising practices to better support them in three case study sites: Miami, Florida; Des Moines, Iowa; and Salt Lake City, Utah. President Obama’s November 2014 executive action granting deferred deportation and work permits to millions of unauthorized immigrants offers a unique opportunity to expand the power of immigrant small entrepreneurship to boost local economic growth. But to realize this potential, immigrants need better access to finance, culturally relevant business training, and a path to permanent legalization.

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