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Immigrants Dominate Business Growth in New York City

October 6, 2011
Plain English Version

A new study shows that immigrants own nearly half of the small businesses in New York City. Immigrants dominate in dry cleaning, taxi services and grocery stores.

Small business owners are self-employed. Corporations with stockholders and nonprofits are not included.

About 9 percent of the business owners are immigrants from China. About one-third come from the Dominican Republic, Korea, India, Italy, Greece, Colombia, countries of the former Soviet Union, Israel and the Palestinian territories and Jamaica. Another 55 percent of foreign-born owners come from other countries.

Immigrants own a majority of transportation and warehousing, retail trade, construction, wholesale trade and manufacturing businesses in New York City.

A full 90 percent of the city’s dry cleaning and taxi service owners are immigrants, as are 84 percent of grocery store owners and 75 percent of child day care owners.

Among computer systems design, architectural and engineering businesses, 40 percent of owners are foreign-born.

Immigrants face the same problems of red tape and access to capital as all entrepreneurs do. They must also deal with language and cultural differences. Bankers who make important loan decisions may be located in far-off places and have little experience with immigrants.

New York City is trying to help immigrants start businesses. It gave money to organizations trying to assist foreign-born entrepreneurs. It is also offering free business classes in five non-English languages.

The New York Times


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