The Important Role of Immigrants in Our Economy
Commissioner Luis A. Aguilar
U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission
Remarks at the 2013 Annual Gala
Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
May 18, 2013
Thank you for that kind introduction. I am glad to be back in Atlanta, and I am delighted to be at the Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce’s (“GHCC”) 2013 Annual Awards Gala. Before I begin my remarks, let me issue the standard disclaimer that the views I express today are my own, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC” or “Commission”), my fellow Commissioners, or members of the staff.
I note that this year marks the 29th anniversary of the GHCC’s founding. Congratulations on this milestone. As some of you know, I have had a long history with the GHCC. I proudly served on its Board of Directors and as Parliamentarian, and had the honor to be named the GHCC Businessman of the Year in 1994 and the GHCC Member of the Year in 2005. Like many of you in this room, I share GHCC’s commitment to the goal of promoting and supporting the economic development of Hispanic businesses and individuals. And I commend your efforts to make sure that the Hispanic community is given every opportunity to contribute to our nation’s progress and economic prosperity.
Tonight I would like to spend my time with you discussing:
%2BThe crucial role that immigrants have played in the economic growth of the United and
%2BHow the SEC can enhance opportunities for small businesses to access capital and grow their businesses.
The Positive Impact of Immigrants on the U.S. Economy
President Obama recently stated that “[t]he lesson of [the past] 236 years [in our country’s history] is clear — immigration makes America stronger. Immigration makes us more prosperous. And immigration positions America to lead in the 21st century.”1 I completely agree with the President. Let me highlight a few interesting facts about the impact of immigrants on our national economy.
First, immigrants are business owners. According to the National Venture Capital Association, over the last 20 years, immigrants have founded, or helped to found, 25% (88 out of 356) public U.S. companies that were backed by venture capital investors.2 This list includes Google, eBay, Yahoo!, and Sun Microsystems.3 In addition, while first generation immigrants are only 12% of the U.S. population, they represent 16.7% of all new business owners in the United States.4 First generation immigrants own businesses in a variety of industries and make substantial contributions to both low-skilled and high-skilled sectors. For example, first generation immigrants:
%2BOwn 28.4% of businesses owned by those with less than a high school education;5
%2BOwn 12% of businesses owned by those with a college education;6 and
%2BOwn 10.8% of all firms with employees, providing job opportunities for thousands of Americans.7
Second, immigrants create jobs. The Fiscal Policy Institute found that small businesses owned by immigrants directly employed an estimated 4.7 million people in the United States. According to the latest estimates, these small businesses generated more than $776 billion in revenue annually.8