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Horowitz: Immigrants Drive American Entrepreneurship

Tuesday, December 12, 2017


Rob Horowitz

A recently released study by the Center for American Entrepreneurship documents that more than 4-in-10 of American Fortune 500 companies were founded or co-founded by immigrants or the children of immigrants.  For the top 35 companies, the results are even more striking with immigrants or children of immigrants founding nearly 6-in-10 of these most successful companies.

These findings are reflected in business formation throughout the American economy. As Ian Hathaway wrote in an analysis of the study conducted for the Brookings Institution: “ Though accounting for less than 14 percent of the population, immigrants found almost a quarter of all new businesses, nearly one-third of venture-backed companies, and half of Silicon Valley high-tech startups.”  Immigrants also comprise a disproportionately high share of patent holders and Nobel Prize winners.

 Consistent with the study, Hathaway points out that “U.S. cities and regions that welcomed more immigrants in the past have been linked with higher incomes, less poverty and unemployment, and greater educational attainment today.”

Given that lagging entrepreneurship is one of the reasons our economy while improving is still not realizing its potential, one would think that we would be encouraging more immigration. Yet, President Trump continues to champion policies that do the opposite, choosing demagoguery and division over undeniable facts.

He is proposing severe cuts in legal immigration and his anti-immigrant rhetoric makes our nation seem less welcoming to the world’s best and brightest.  Trump shamelessly peddles the old false story that this new generation of immigrants will be different than all the groups that came before and wreck our culture.

The real story as borne out in this study is that immigrants are providing a dynamic new generation of entrepreneurs, business success and job creation, propelling our economy forward and enriching our culture.

 Immigrants have been contributing to America since the beginning of the republic.  As James Madison, quoted by Hathaway, said at the Constitutional Convention in 1787, “America was indebted to immigration for her settlement and prosperity. That part of America which had encouraged them most had advanced most rapidly in population, agriculture and the arts.”   

 This is as true today as it was then.  Our nation is improved by people coming here to seek a better life for their children, succeeding in doing so, and enriching us all at the same time.  We all must demand immigration policies that reflect this enduring truth.

Rob Horowitz is a strategic and communications consultant who provides general consulting, public relations, direct mail services and polling for national and state issue organizations, various non-profits and elected officials and candidates.. He is also an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at the University of Rhode Island.


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