Center for American Entrepreneurship Releases New Study on the Immigrant Founders of Companies in the 2017 Fortune 500

December 3, 2017

For Immediate Release
3 minutes

Washington D.C. – The Center for American Entrepreneurship (CAE), a nonpartisan research, policy, and advocacy organization, today released a new study on the immigrant founders of Fortune 500 companies.  Given the on-going national debate regarding immigration policy – and the well-established importance of immigrants to entrepreneurship in the United States – CAE analyzed the national origin of the founders of the 500 largest publicly listed and private companies in the United States by revenue, as determined by Forbes Magazine for 2017.

CAE’s analysis found that 43 percent of the 2017 Fortune 500 were founded or co-founded by an immigrant or the child of an immigrant.  The analysis also found that the occurrence of first- or second-generation immigrant founders is significantly higher among the largest Fortune 500 companies – accounting for 52 percent of the top 25 firms and 57 percent of the top 35 firms.

Immigrant-founded Fortune 500 firms are headquartered in 68 metropolitan areas across 33 states, employ 12.8 million people worldwide, and accounted for $5.3 trillion in global revenue in 2016.

The results are striking and should be carefully considered by policymakers as they continue to deliberate the fate of 800,000 so-called DREAMers – undocumented immigrants brought to the United States illegally as children – and U.S. immigration policy more generally.

In particular, the analysis provides compelling support for the creation of an entrepreneur visa, an important aspect of the Startup Act, bipartisan legislation reintroduced by Senators Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Mark Warner (D-VA) on September 28th.

“Foreign-born entrepreneurs have been an important part of America’s economic landscape for decades,” said John Dearie, founder and president of the Center for American Entrepreneurship. “With global competition for innovation and growth increasingly fierce, ensuring that the next generation of great companies are launched here in America requires an explicit legal pathway to attract and retain the world’s best entrepreneurial talent.”

“The findings of our analysis, along with a vast research literature, demonstrate the remarkable and persistent importance of immigrants to the creation and growth of America’s largest and most valuable companies,” said Ian Hathaway, CAE’s director of research, who led the analysis underlying the report.  “Our work also shows that many of America’s most iconic entrepreneurs migrated here from a wide range of geographic and socio-economic backgrounds – it is questionable whether some of them would have been allowed to come here under current policy.”

“Our nation’s universities and startup ecosystem attract the best and brightest innovators from all over the world,” said Blake Patton, founder of Tech Square Ventures in Atlanta, GA and chairman of CAE’s Board of Directors.  “We need immigration policies that enable us to keep that talent here to launch and grow startups that are the drivers of innovation, growth, and job creation in America.”

Full Report

The full report can be found at:  CAE welcomes press, bloggers, policymakers, scholars, think tanks, and other interested parties to use and reference our report with attribution as: “Source: Immigrant Founders of the 2017 Fortune 500, Center for American Entrepreneurship, December 2017.”

About the Center for American Entrepreneurship (CAE)

The Center for American Entrepreneurship (CAE) is a nonpartisan, Washington, DC area-based 501(c)(3) research, policy, and advocacy organization.  CAE’s mission is to engage policymakers in Washington, and at state and local levels across the nation, regarding the critical importance of entrepreneurs and startups to innovation, economic growth, and job creation – and to pursue a comprehensive policy agenda intended to significantly enhance the circumstances for new business formation, survival, and growth.

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