The Impact of Immigrant Entrepreneurs

While largely disconnected from formal business services, immigrant small-biz owners have been a big driver of economic growth in U.S. cities, a new study finds

Alfredo Melendez came to the U.S. from El Salvador at age 15, spoke no English, and had no money and no papers. Although he wanted to go to school, his uncle told him that wasn't an option. His uncle's advice: "Work hard, save your money, and do something with your life." Melendez found a job as a dishwasher at a restaurant outside Washington, D.C., and put in a year of 15-hour days before moving up to a higher-paying job at Dulles Airport. But when his younger brother, a restaurant cook, heard that the aging proprietor of a local takeout joint wanted out, Melendez sensed an opportunity.

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