Walk down Main Street in your community and it’s likely that you’ll pass by a lot of immigrant-owned businesses.
In the new report “Bringing Vitality to Main Street,” the Council of the Americas and the Fiscal Policy Institute find that between 2000 and 2013, immigrant-owned businesses were responsible for all the net growth in Main Street businesses — from restaurants to hairdressers to auto body shops — throughout the U.S. and in 31 of the largest 50 cities in the country.
Immigrants own 53 percent of America’s grocery stores, 45 percent of its nail salons and 38 percent of its restaurants. Overall, immigrants own 28 percent of the Main Street businesses in America, even though they only comprise 16 percent of country’s population.
The authors of the report included businesses owned by both documented and undocumented immigrants in the study, zeroing in on three areas where vibrant immigrant communities have revitalized neighborhoods and cities: Philadelphia, Nashville and the Twin Cities.
Jennifer Rodriguez, executive director of Philadelphia’s Mayor’s Office of Immigrant and Cultural Affairs, tells NBC News that the report, “really tells a story of how hard-working they are and how they are contributors to our city, how they helped bring back neighborhoods that have been in decline.”
In addition to contributing to business growth, immigrants seem to be shoring up the housing market as well. Gillian B. White writes for National Journal that while millennials have so far proven to be less likely than previous generations to purchase real estate, buying a house is still a key goal for many immigrants. In fact, according to the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies, immigrants are responsible for 27.5 percent of the growth in homeownership over the past 20 years. Unlike their millennial counterparts from non-immigrant families, the children of immigrants account for the largest increase in the growth of households headed by people under age 30.
As Rodriguez says, “I often say that what is good for immigrants is good for everyone.”