Immigration’s Economic Impact Profound
Immigrant business owners, like this Jackson Heights jeweler, pump millions of dollars into the Queens economy every year. Tribune Photo by Ira Cohen
By Jeff Feinman
Immigrant contributions have stimulated the economy of Queens possibly more than in any other location in the United States. Whether it is a vintage Chinese restaurant, a Bukharian drug store or an Indian market place, proprietors are able to flourish when they come to Queens from places far across the ocean.
There are many organizations throughout the borough that provide training and support to immigrant entrepreneurs, which enables businessmen of all different ethnic backgrounds to prosper in the Queens market place.
“Our members certainly represent the diversity of Queens; we’re seeing a much stronger representation,” said Kathy Moran of the Queens Chamber of Commerce, an organization that offers information and advice to new businesses. “We have a good showing of big businesses, but the bulk of business in Queens consists of the smaller sole proprietors.”
A report by the National Research Council said that immigrants add approximately $10 billion to the national economy each year. According to the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, immigrants make up 43 percent of New York City’s labor force.
Though the Queens Borough President’s office has never done a survey to determine the impact that illegal immigrants have on the economy, officials did say that immigrants have made a very positive contribution overall.
“There’s no real statistics for illegal immigrants, but if you were to look at Flushing, Corona, Jackson Heights, the Richmond Hill business district – those economies have taken off due to the influx of immigrants,” said the Borough President’s Director of Economic Development Seth Bornstein.
Comptroller William Thompson has created many initiatives to aid immigrants in the workplace. For instance, his “Immigrant Outreach Initiative,” created in 2002, works to obtain money owed to immigrants not being paid properly under prevailing wage laws.
“As New York City ‘s Chief Financial Officer, I am highly sensitive to the beneficial economic effects of a balanced immigration policy,” Thompson said.