Giving Immigrant Entrepreneurs a Hand: International Hartford aims to help new businesses
EDITORIAL 7:09 p.m. EST, November 11, 2013
Immigrants start businesses at a higher rate than non-immigrants, according to a Small Business Administration study. New businesses mean more jobs and economic activity.So, concluded Art Feltman and Milagros Cruz, why not help more immigrants start businesses?
Mr. Feltman, a former Hartford city council member and state legislator, and Ms. Cruz, an immigration lawyer, have launched an entity called International Hartford, dedicated to helping immigrant entrepreneurs launch small businesses. It is not a lending institution, but rather a kind of clearinghouse that provides such supports as help with business plans, matchups with same-culture business counselors, market research and referrals to lenders. It’s a great idea, one that can promote commerce downtown and in the neighborhoods, where business is dearly needed. And if it builds on itself, if Hartford gets a reputation as a place that is friendly to immigrant businesses, who knows? The entrepreneur with a taco truck may smooth the path for a niece or nephew who starts a software company. An entrepreneur in Hartford might open trade with his or her home country.
Immigrants have been starting businesses in Hartford since the city was founded. Many of today’s immigrants, unlike some periods in history, are well educated; about a third have college or graduate degrees. Some are underemployed and itching to move up the ladder. About a fourth of new tech companies have at least one founder born abroad, according to studies by the Kauffman Foundation, and the numbers are higher in the Silicon Valley. There’s no reason a little of that magic couldn’t happen here.
Add immigrant business operators to the core of promising homegrown entrepreneurs now working in the city as well as the legacy businesses, and perhaps Hartford can again be what it was for a long time — a place that drew immigrants because there was plenty of work here. For more information, see
Copyright © 2013, The Hartford Courant