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Immigration and Entrepreneurship: A Boom to the Economy

Immigrant entrepreneurs play an important role in Virginia’s economy. They bring in additional revenue, create jobs, and contribute to their communities.

17.5% of business owners in Virginia are immigrants. In 2010, new immigrant business owners had a total net income of $3 billion. Companies such as Advance Auto Parts, Capital One Financial, and MeadWestvaco all were started with at least one founder who was an immigrant or a child of an immigrant. See the Report by the Immigration Policy Center “Immigrant Entrepreneurs and Innovators across the United States” at

The United States is home to many successful companies with at least one founder who was an immigrant or child of an immigrant. In 2010, more than 40 percent of the Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants (90 companies) or children of immigrants (114 companies), according to the Partnership for a New American Economy. Many are recognizable “American” brands such as AT&T, Kraft, Proctor & Gamble, U.S. Steel, DuPont, Goldman Sachs, Kohl’s, Honeywell, and Nordstrom. Immmigrants start many recognizable high-tech firms, including Google, eBay, Yahoo!, and Intel.

Immigrant-founded venture-backed companies create extraordinary value. As of June 2013, such publicly traded companies had a total market capitalization of $900 billion. If this group of companies were a country, they would be among the top twenty economies in the world.

Highly skilled immigrants contribute to Virginia’s economic growth and competitiveness by earning degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) field from Virginia’s research universities. Unfortunately, there are an insufficient number of these temporary visas available under our current immigration law. An expansion of the high-skilled visa program (H-1B) would create an estimated 11,600 new jobs in Virginia by 2020. Unfortunately, there are only 65,000 H-1B visas available every year. When those numbers are used employers have to wait for the next fiscal year to get the highly skilled employees they need.

We are facing shortages of highly skilled workers especially in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. The Construction industry is going to grow robustly and will be facing severe shortages of workers. As the baby boomers retire, there are an insufficient number of younger replacement workers to fill the jobs they are leaving. We already have a shortage of nurses and doctors. We need to look forward, rather than backward. We need to anticipate, rather than agitate. We need to find creative solutions that will grow with the needs of the country, rather than to plant seeds of anger and scapegoating. We need to hold ourselves accountable. We need to hold those we elect to Office in the House and Senate accountable to do what is right for the country, for the people, rather than to political interests.

It is time to put politics aside and to do the right thing.