Immigrants: the new, high-tech entrepreneurs
In other words: white American men.
But a report released this month reveals that 16 percent of high-tech, “high-impact” companies are founded by immigrants.
The study, commissioned by the self-proclaimed “business watchdog” Office of Advocacy of the U.S. Small Business Administration, is significant for a couple reasons. For one, consider the term “high-impact,” which describes firms with sales that have at least doubled over the most recent 4-year period, with notable employment growth. These aren’t fledgling gadget companies with no hope for survival.
Even more importantly, the research underlines the vital role U.S. immigration policy plays in entrepreneurialism — particularly in light of growing competition from emerging economies like China. As the study points out, immigrant entrepreneurialism isn’t just on the rise, it’s driving job creation in a key industry and growth in the U.S. economy.
But immigration policy has some cracks in it, and it could be costly. Says the study:
“Even those individuals who have a reasonable prospect of extending their stay in the United States may lack the certainty that they will be here long enough to be able to reap the benefits of taking the entrepreneurial ‘leap’ because of the way the immigration system handles their cases. As a result, their potential entrepreneurial contribution to the nation may be lost.”
One final note about immigrant entrepreneurs, lest anyone think they’re swooping into the U.S. to make a fortune before they fly the coop: a big chunk of them have been in this country for two decades or more, more than three-quarters of them are U.S. citizens, and two-thirds of them received undergraduate or graduate degrees in the U.S.
Is the U.S. doing enough to foster entrepreneurialism? Share your thoughts below.