Did you know that 41% of the Fortune 500 companies were founded by either an immigrant or the child of an immigrant and that the 2010 Fortune 500 companies generated revenues equivalent to 73% of the US GDP?
America’s dynamic, free, and open economy has for more than two centuries acted as a powerful magnet for the world’s brightest and most creative minds. This is the American tradition. Each generation, millions of talented people from around the world take the risk of leaving their homes to seek a better life at our shores. And the American economy benefits enormously from the contributions of these hard-working, innovative individuals.
This report highlights the benefits we receive from immigrants’ entrepreneurialism by examining the Fortune 500, a list of companies that help define the American economy. Every year, Fortune Magazine ranks the top American companies by revenue. The companies that populate the list — names like Kraft, Ford, General Electric, Procter & Gamble, AT&T, Mattel, Google, McDonald’s, Heinz, Home Depot, Hertz, Estée Lauder, UPS, Boeing, and Disney — are synonymous with America’s leading role in the global marketplace.
But the great American companies listed above are also “New American” companies —companies founded by immigrants or their children — a characteristic they share with more than 200 others on the 2010 Fortune 500 list. This report examines the impact that immigrant entrepreneurs have had on our economy, on millions of workers across virtually all industry sectors, and on America’s prosperity. And it underscores the opportunities America may lose if future entrepreneurs start their businesses in other countries — especially if we maintain an immigration system that turns many of them away.
The report shows how America’s economy has always profited from the steady influx of foreign-born talent. But in the new 21st century global economy, we must do more to welcome the next generation of entrepreneurs, as opportunities improve around the world and competing countries roll out the red carpet. For years, America has loomed largest in the minds of the most enterprising individuals around the world. But as the global marketplace evolves, we cannot count on remaining their top choice. Budding entrepreneurs from new powerhouses like China and India see ever-better business environments back home. Countries like the U.K., Canada, and Australia are taking bold steps to draw ambitious, talented people to their shores. Meanwhile, the American immigration system continues to raise barriers to these individuals, driving away the bright foreign students who attend our universities and keeping out the aspiring businesspeople who would otherwise come here.
First and foremost, we must pursue smart immigration policies that better encourage the brightest and most entrepreneurial to build their businesses and create jobs in the U.S. We must provide incentives and opportunities for foreign students to stay after graduating from our universities with advanced degrees, especially in critical fields like science and technology. We must make it easier for American businesses to hire and keep the highly skilled workers they need to thrive. And we must create a visa specifically for the aspiring entrepreneurs who will found the Fortune 500 companies of tomorrow, rather than driving them and their investors elsewhere to create the jobs we need here.