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January 03, 2007

« Mathematics of talent | Main | New immigrant entrepreneurs »

In the current issue of The Next American City Reese Fayde, CEO of Living Cities: The National Community Development Initiative, highlights the powerful economic impact immigrants are affecting in the Twin Cities, especially in new business starts.

Some evidence:

Professor Rob Fairlie of the University of Santa Clara—a leading authority on entrepreneurship—notes that immigrants are more inclined to start new businesses than their native-born counterparts. Based on his research, he suspects that there are over a million immigrant businesses created each year.

Immigrant-owned businesses still include traditional restaurants and groceries like Manny’s Tortas. But they also run the gamut from professional services to high-growth technology companies. As Mayor Michael Bloomberg quipped in recent Congressional testimony on immigration, it is “pure fantasy” to imagine life in a major city without immigrants. According to Michael Porter, chairman of the Boston-based Initiative for a Competitive Inner City, they change the face of entrepreneurship in inner cities, providing “a much-needed shot of economic vibrancy to distressed neighborhoods.” And yet few urban communities have actively sought and supported immigrant entrepreneurs as a revitalization tactic.

And as she points out:

The Twin Cities’ efforts to support immigrant entrepreneurship offers lessons for other urban communities. One of the most important aspects of the Twin Cities’ approach is its celebration of the increasing diversity of the city. The city has reached out to Latino, Somali and Hmong immigrants, taking language, culture and the unique needs of immigrant entrepreneurs into consideration. These efforts to better understand immigrants have led to noteworthy innovations, including the development of on-site technical assistance in an entrepreneur’s native language and the country’s first small business finance tool for Muslims that does not charge interest and is consistent with Islamic banking norms.

Check out the full story here.

Tell us about creative strategies working in your community. Use the comment section below or send Amanda and email at Amanda@CreativeClass.org.


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