Many Fortune 500 Firms Headed by Immigrants

More than 40 percent were founded or co-founded by immigrants and children of immigrants.

IMMIGRANTS ARE GOOD for business, according to new research by the Center for American Entrepreneurship (CAE), a nonpartisan research and advocacy organization based in Washington, D.C. The organization analyzed the national origins of the founders of the 500 largest publicly listed and private companies as determined by the Fortune 500 list for 2017. Its researchers discovered that 43 percent of these companies were founded or co-founded by immigrants or children of immigrants.

In addition, first- or second-generation immigrants were the founders of slightly more than half of the firms in the top 25. Immigrant-founded Fortune 500 firms are headquartered in 68 metropolitan areas across 33 states, employ 12.8 million people worldwide, and accounted for US$5.3 trillion in global revenue in 2016.

The CAE report notes that American policymakers should consider these facts as they deliberate the fate of 800,000 so-called Dreamers—undocumented immigrants who were brought to the United States illegally as children—and U.S. immigration policy more generally. In particular, the analysis supports the notion of an entrepreneur visa, one component aspect of the Startup Act, which is bipartisan legislation intended to encourage the viability of startup companies through changes in tax and immigration policies.

The analysis demonstrates “the remarkable and persistent importance of immigrants to the creation and growth of America’s largest and most valuable companies,” says 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 socioeconomic backgrounds—it is questionable whether some of them would have been allowed to come here under current policy.”

The full report for “Immigrant Founders of the 2017 Fortune 500” can be found at startupsusa.org/fortune500.