March 2015

Latest Research

Challenges and promising practices for immigrant small entrepreneurship, poverty reduction, and economic development. A new report, Harnessing Immigrant Small Entrepreneurship for Economic Growth, describes challenges for small business immigrant entrepreneurs and some of the promising practices to better support them in three cities: Miami, Florida; Des Moines, Iowa; and Salt Lake City, Utah.

How immigrant businesses contribute to community development. A new study—Immigrant Businesses, Place-Making, and Community Development: A Case from an Emerging Immigrant Gateway—explores immigrant business contributions to place-making and community development in Charlotte, North Carolina. The study finds that “immigrant businesses have transformed deteriorating and abandoned street fronts into vibrant and well-frequented urban environments conducive for further development.”

What the latest research findings tell us about skilled immigrant success. A recent piecefrom IMPRINT Project summarizes the findings from recent research about the success of skilled immigrants in the U.S. Summarizing research about college-educated immigrants, the article “measures the scope and significance of skilled immigrant issues; reviews policies and practices that facilitate skilled immigrant integration; [and] identifies gaps in existing research and directions for future research.”

News Updates

Immigrant entrepreneur contributions to U.S. economy lost in the debate. A March 6 article in The Hill describes how, between 1980 and 2010, immigrants were consistently more likely than the U.S.-born to establish incorporated businesses. Additionally, immigrants comprise 17 percent of high-tech entrepreneurs. As the authors explain, “The conclusion from the literature is that immigrants are job creators, both for themselves and for others…Stopping the flow of high-skilled immigrants to the U.S. will have detrimental effects on the U.S. economy. Many state and local governments already have initiated policies to further attract and retain immigrant entrepreneurs to boost their local economies.”

Groups recommend how the White House could boost immigrant entrepreneurship. As aMarch 4 post for Immigration Impact explains, on February 9, as part of a “call for ideas” to help shape a new federal strategy on immigrant integration, individuals and organizations from across the U.S. submitted a comprehensive set of recommendations to the Task Force on New Americans, including suggestions to encourage immigrant and refugee entrepreneurship and small business development.

States and cities recognizing the value of New Americans. A recent article in Governingdescribes why more places are viewing immigrants as one key component to economic revival. As the author points out, immigrants “constituted nearly all of the growth in so-called ‘main street’ businesses in 31 of the 50 largest U.S. metro areas from 2000 to 2013.” And in Michigan, for example, immigrants created high-tech businesses at a rate six times that of the rest of the state’s population. Indeed, there are a growing number of state and local governments and organizations forging a new economic development strategy that some have termed “immigrant-driven revival.”

Charlotte Immigrant Integration Task Force presents recommendations, including ways to grow immigrant entrepreneurship. On March 23, Charlotte’s Immigrant Integration Task Force—a 29-member group composed of individuals from across different sectors of the community—presented their recommendations to the Charlotte City Council. One recommendation is to “support immigrant and refugee entrepreneurship and small businesses.” The recommendedstrategies, based on a year-long study involving listening to the community and learning from others, paint a portrait of the importance of immigrant integration.

The power and potential of high-skilled immigration. On March 17, the American Immigration Council’s executive director, Benjamin Johnson, testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee about the integral role immigration plays in America’s economic prosperity. Although the hearing title, “Immigration Reforms Needed to Protect Skilled American Workers,” suggested that some minds had already been made up, Johnson reframed the conversation, calling on Congress to consider immigration policies that are in line with the country’s economic needs, while protecting the rights and promoting the opportunities for all workers.

A smarter way to retain STEM foreign students. A March 25 article for The Avenue describes ways in which the President could reform the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program to better retain qualified foreign students while protecting them and other workers. Such actions could “provide pathways to retain highly qualified graduates from American higher educational institutions, an important step toward preserving the United States’ status as a hub of innovation and knowledge creation.”