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New Mexico: Immigrant Entrepreneurs and Innovation in the Land of Enchantment

In New Mexico, there is no doubt that immigrant entrepreneurs and innovators play an important role. Immigrant entrepreneurs bring in additional revenue, create jobs, and contribute significantly to the state’s economy. Furthermore, highly skilled immigrants are vital to the state’s innovation industries, and to the metropolitan areas within the state, helping to boost local economies.

Immigrant entrepreneurs contribute significantly to New Mexico’s economy.

  • From 2006 to 2010, there were 11,440 new immigrant business owners in New Mexico, and in 2010, 12.6 percent of all business owners in New Mexico were foreign-born.
  • In 2010, new immigrant business owners had total net business income of $389 million, which is 8.9 percent of all net business income in the state.
  • New Mexico is home to successful immigrant-founded companies, including two of the state’s largest supermarket chains, El Mezquite and El Paisano.

Highly skilled immigrants are vital to New Mexico’s innovation industries, which in turn helps lead American innovation and creates jobs.

  • In New Mexico, 45.1 percent of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) graduates at the state’s research-intensive universities are foreign-born, and 60.5 percent of the state’s engineering Ph.D. students are foreign-born.
  • In 2011, the U.S. Department of Labor certified 653 H-1B labor certification applications in New Mexico, with an average annual wage of $71,063, which is higher than New Mexico’s median household income of $44,631 or per capita income of $23,537.
  • An expansion of the high-skilled visa program would create an estimated 1,500 new jobs in New Mexico by 2020. By 2045, this expansion would add around $654 million to Gross State Product and increase personal income by more than $613 million. The following is an example of metropolitan area demand for high-skilled foreign-born workers.
    • The Albuquerque metropolitan area had 277 H-1B high-skilled visa requests in 2010-2011, with 53.7 percent of H-1B visa-holders working in STEM occupations. A major employer with a need for H-1B high-skilled workers is the University of New Mexico.

While the numbers are compelling, they don’t tell the whole story.

  • Immigrant entrepreneurs not only contribute to large innovative companies, but to small-business formation in local communities. In towns across New Mexico, immigrant family-owned small businesses contribute to the vitality of their local communities. Although initially aimed at other immigrant customers, many businesses quickly see an expansion of their clientele to include a diverse array of immigrant and native-born customers alike.
    • Sergio Bermudez and his brother, originally from Mexico, founded their first El Mezquite grocery store in 1998. Today, El Mezquite is one of the fastest growing Latino immigrant-owned businesses in the state, with six large market locations around central New Mexico employing more than 220 people and serving around 40,000 customers per week.
    • In Santa Fe, immigrant-owned “mom-and pop” small businesses are found throughout the city, catering to the culinary, retail, and service needs of a diverse immigrant community. These businesses include the Mendoza family’s furniture store, Muebleria Familiar, on Cerrillos Road, Pedro Solis’ Guadalajara Grill, Sofia Trejo’s Zapatos Gala, Jesus Marquez’s Tortas Chihuas sandwich shop, and Mariola Mendoza’s La Tiendita.
    • In Albuquerque, immigrant small business owners representing a variety of countries of origin add to the food, retail, and service offerings of the state’s largest city. Such immigrant-owned businesses include Song Choi’s (from South Korea) Hiland Coin-Op Laundry and Cleaners, Vicky Truong’s (from Vietnam) Saigon Restaurant, Gladys Manfredi’s (from Colombia) All the Americas grocery store, Jaime Flores’ (from Mexico) Carniceria Flores, Mahmoud and Manal Manasra’s (from Palestine) Petra Café and Restaurant, and Bounphom Limary’s (from Laos) Ta Lin Wholesale International Foods and Restaurant Supply.

Published On: Thu, Aug 22, 2013 | Download File