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Latino Daily News

Monday December 3, 2012

Immigrants May Hold the Key to Urban Renewal in Baltimore

Immigrants May Hold the Key to Urban Renewal in Baltimore

Photo: Baltimore

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By Walter Ewing, Immigration Impact

In an attempt to reverse decades of population decline, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake has launched a high-profile effort to attract “new Americans” to the city.

The theory is that these new Americans—that is, immigrants—will bring the skills, entrepreneurship, and tax base needed to revitalize blighted neighborhoods that are now full of boarded-up buildings rather than thriving businesses and family homes.

The available evidence suggests that immigration can indeed be a powerful force for urban renewal. But most immigrants will not be drawn to a new city simply by a welcome sign. It is likely that they look for some signs of revitalization before they take the risk of uprooting their families and moving to a new place.

The ongoing effort by the Baltimore city government to attract immigrants is profiled in a new paper from Next American City and the National League of Cities, entitled “The Rise of the New Baltimoreans.” As the paper makes clear, the promise of immigration as an economic resource rests heavily on entrepreneurship. Immigrants are much more likely to create businesses than the native-born, and businesses create jobs, attract consumers, and generate substantial tax revenue.

The paper cites a number of studies released this year which document and quantify the immense scale of the entrepreneurial power which immigrants wield. For instance:

    The Partnership for a New American Economy released a report in August which found that “immigrant-owned firms now generate more than $775 billion in revenue, $125 billion in payroll, and $100 billion in income, employing one out of every 10 workers along the way.” Moreover, “immigrants started 28 percent of all new U.S. businesses in 2011, despite accounting for just 12.9 percent of the U.S. population.”
    At the small-scale end of the business continuum, a June report from the Fiscal Policy Institute found that immigrant-owned small businesses employed 4.7 million people and had $776 billion in receipts in 2007, the last year for which data is available. Approximately 18% of all small business owners in the United States were immigrants; higher than the immigrant share of the population (13%) or labor force (16%).
    At the large-scale end of the business continuum, a June report from the Partnership for a New American Economy found that that Fortune 500 companies founded by immigrants account for 18% of all Fortune 500 companies, generate $1.7 trillion in annual revenue, and employ 3.7 million workers worldwide. These companies include AT&T, Verizon, Pfizer, Kraft, Comcast, Intel, Merck, DuPont, Google, Kohl’s, Sara Lee, Sun Microsystems, United States Steel, Qualcomm, eBay, Nordstrom, and Yahoo!