South Florida leads nation in growth of immigrant high-tech entrepreneurship, study finds

A new national study released Tuesday by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation found that South Florida has grown faster than all other top metro areas in immigrant tech entrepreneurship.

The foundation’s research also shows immigrant-owned businesses are more likely to locate in ethnically diverse metro areas that have high foreign-born populations like South Florida.

Although the New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco metro areas accounted for about a third of all immigrant high-tech entrepreneurs in the country in 2011, Miami and Fort Lauderdale had the No. 1 and No. 3 highest rates of foreign-born tech entrepreneurs, signficantly ahead of tech hubs like San Francisco, New York and Austin, Texas, the report found. San Jose, Calif., was No. 2.

Perhaps more significantly, the Miami and Fort Lauderdale metro areas were No. 1 and No. 2 for growth rates of immigrant tech entrepreneurs between 2000 and 2011. Other metros registering strongl growth include Atlanta, Chicago, Houston and Washington, D.C. The metros of Silicon Valley -- San Francisco and San Jose -- did not experience substantial growth.

The study, “Lessons for U.S. Metro Areas: Characteristics and Clustering of High-Tech Immigrant Entrepreneurs,” is based on data from the American Community Survey and looks at 2000-2011 -- just before the most recent push to grow tech entrepreneurship in South Florida began.

Data is always a bit behind but still, that’s a pretty big change, said Gary Painter from the University of Southern California, one of the study’s authors. “There is already a high rate of immigrant high-tech workers in your area, and it has had the fastest growth over the past decade. Our model shows high-tech immigrants like to be near other high-tech workers and they like to be near other immigrants so Miami is in a really strong position to capitalize on this trend.”

Other key findings in the study:

•  Eighty percent of immigrant high-tech entrepreneurs operate in the largest 25 metro areas, compared with 57 percent of their U.S.-born counterparts.

•  Nationally, immigrants comprised 20 percent of the high-tech work force and 17.3 percent of high-tech entrepreneurs between 2007 and 2011, representing an increase of 13.7 percent and 13.5 percent, respectively, from 2000.

•  Nationally, between 2000 and 2011, the number of self-employed immigrants in high-tech industries increased by 64 percent, compared with 22.6 percent for U.S.-born.

Find the study at

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