California Has Most Immigrant Entrepreneurs, and Room for More Offshore

Friday, June 15, 2012

Although California has the highest concentration of immigrant small-business owners in the nation, a company called Blueseed has floated a plan to house more offshore where immigration laws can be legally skirted.

The company is seeking start-up funds to renovate a ship that can hold 1,000 people (plus a staff of 300) who would pay $1,200-$3,000 a month in rent to live in international waters just outside the 12-mile limit. The ship residents would use tourist and short-term business visas for travel to the mainland, although they would be restricted to 180 days onshore. Blueseed is targeted at Silicon Valley and hopes to launch by 2014.

According to its website, Blueseed’s ship would fly the flag of a country that “has reputable judicial systems” like the Marshall Islands or The Bahamas and will be safe from tsunamis, earthquakes, hurricanes and pirates (who “have much better targets elsewhere”).

While Blueseed’s focus is on tech-related enterprises, a new report from the Fiscal Policy Institute indicates that California leads the nation in immigrant entrepreneurship. Immigrants, who are 13% of the U.S. population, own 18% of the country’s small businesses and are 10% more likely to own small businesses than U.S.-born workers. But in California, they own a third of all small businesses. California was followed by New York (29.4%), New Jersey (28.0%), Florida (26.1%) and Hawaii (22.5%). South Dakota was last at 1.1%.

Los Angeles is second to Miami, 45% to 44%, among metropolitan areas in concentration of foreign-born small-business owners. San Francisco checks in at 35%, San Diego is 32%, Riverside 31% and Sacramento 18%.

The institute’s study is based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Business Owners and the American Community Survey.

     -Ken Broder


To Learn More:

One-Third of California Small Businesses Owned by Immigrants (by Paloma Esquivel, Los Angeles Times)

Study: Immigrants Own 18% of U.S. Small Businesses (by Alan Gomez, USA Today)

Immigrant Small Business Owners (The Fiscal Policy Institute’s Immigration Research Initiative) (pdf)

Start-Up Floats a Solution to Tech Industry's Visa Problem (by Alan Gomez, USA Today)

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