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Most Main Street Growth Due To Immigrant-Owned Businesses

Image: Immigrants Become US Citizens During Naturalization Ceremony At Liberty State Park
Immigrants take the oath of citizenship to the United States during a naturalization ceremony at Liberty State Park on September 19, 2014 in Jersey City, New Jersey. John Moore / Getty Images

There's a very good chance that the new deli, dry cleaner or nail salon that opened in your neighborhood shopping district is owned by an immigrant.

Between 2000 and 2013, immigrants accounted for all net Main Street business growth nationally and in 31 of the 50 largest metropolitan areas in the country, according to a new study released Wednesday by the Americas Society/Council of the Americas (AS/COA) and the Fiscal Policy Institute. The report examined Census figures and business owner surveys, and included documented and undocumented immigrants.

Though they account for only 16 percent of the U.S. labor force and 18 percent of business owners, immigrants make up 28 percent of Main Street small business owners. Immigrants make up more than six-in-10 Main Street business owners in Los Angeles and over half the business owners in Miami and the Washington, D.C. metro areas.

Immigrants are also credited with helping reverse population declines in some of America's cities. This is the case in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where immigrants were 12 percent of the population in 2013 and 28 percent of the Main Street business owners.

“That 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,” Jennifer Rodriguez, executive director of Philadelphia's Mayor’s Office of Immigrant and Cultural Affairs, told NBC News.

“I often say that what is good for immigrants is good for everyone," Rodriguez said.


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--Juan Castillo