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Immigrants in Arizona: The Business Side of Things

Posted by Matthew Green | Jan 17, 2014 | 0 Comments

Skilled immigrants bring a boost to both the national and local economies. This is certainly true in Arizona. The proposed immigration reform bill contains policies that will ease the immigration process for the skilled workers. It is encouraging to think about how many more business advancements may take place in the upcoming years.

These individuals bring additional revenue and jobs to Arizona. Skilled immigrants have helped to innovate and grow industries in cities and communities throughout our state. Here are some facts:

  • In 2010, new immigrant business owners had total net business income of $2.2 billion. This is over 14% of all net business income in the state.
  • There were more than 50,700 new immigrant business owners in Arizona between the years of 2006 and 2010. By 2010, almost 20% of all business owners in Arizona were immigrants.
  • The Phoenix metro area has a uniquely high level of immigrant business ownership. In 2010, 28% of business owners in the area were foreign-born.

In order for Arizona to continue to see growth in business ventures, it is vital that we encourage highly skilled immigrants to work and live in the state. Growth in Arizona will undoubtedly lead to increased revenue and business opportunities for the rest of the nation, too.

So, what are some of the most beneficial areas of study and experience? Immigrants who have degrees and experience in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) are generally considered the most desirable.  In 2009, over half of STEM graduates from Arizona research universities were immigrants.

If the current immigration reform bill (S. 744) is passed, there will be an expanded high-skilled visa program. This program is estimated to create 5,900 new jobs in Arizona by 2020. These new jobs are projected to bring about an additional $3 billion to Gross State Product by 2045. Personal income would increase by more than $2.6 billion.

While these big numbers attract a lot of attention, small businesses are helping to impact the economy, too. Many immigrants start family-owned businesses after moving to the U.S. These businesses are often initially geared towards attracting other immigrant clients, but that can quickly change. Successful immigrant businesses will generally expand by appealing to a more diverse group of customers.

There are good examples right here in Tucson. On the south side of the city, you will find a number of immigrant-owned small businesses. Restaurants like Contreras Family's El Güero Canelo Mexican and Benjamin Galaz's BK Carne Asada and Hot Dogs have become local chains and have seen much success in Tucson.

Galaz is a great example of how a small business can grow to be a success. Before he bought his first hot dog stand, he worked as a telemarketer to save money. After he had enough money saved, he was able to start his business and the small hot dog cart has since grown to a popular restaurant serving patrons who come from all over the area to experience real Mexican fare.

It is immigrants like Galaz who push lawmakers and other politicians to continue the fight for immigration reform.

As an immigration attorney in Tucson, I have seen first hand how immigrants have contributed to the community. It is my hope that the current immigration reform measure gets passed so even more immigrants are able to live and work right here, in Arizona.

About the Author

Matthew Green

Managing Partner. Green | Evans-Schroeder (formerly Law Offices of Matthew H. Green) focuses on the aggressive defense of immigrants. A native of Arizona, Mr. Green understands the difficulties that immigrants and families of immigrants face when a loved one is charged with a crime. He knows how frightening it can be for some...


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