Report shows immigrant entrepreneurs’ outsize impact on Fortune 500

Immigrants or the children of immigrants had a hand in the founding of 43 percent of the companies in this year’s Fortune 500, including giants like Apple, Google, Facebook and Amazon, according to a new report  from the Center for American Entrepreneurship.

The report from the CAE, a Washington-based, non-partisan think tank, aims to illustrate the impact immigrants have on the U.S. economy.

“Foreign-born entrepreneurs have been an important part of America’s economic landscape for decades,” John Dearie, founder and president of the Center for American Entrepreneurship, said in a release. “With global competition for innovation and growth increasingly fierce, ensuring that the next generation of great companies are launched here in America requires an explicit legal pathway to attract and retain the world’s best entrepreneurial talent.”

Missouri’s immigrant founders

Of the 10 Missouri companies to make this year’s Fortune 500, three were founded by first- or second-generation Americans, according to the CAE. Emerson Electric and Monsanto, both from the St. Louis area, and O’Reilly Automotive, based in Springfield, all trace their roots to immigrant founders, the report says.

Those three companies account for a combined 184,347 employees and $42.4 billion in revenue, according to the report.

High concentration in high tech

Immigrant-founded Fortune 500 companies are most common in the tech sector, where 45 companies were founded by first- or second-generation Americans. Other industries with high numbers of immigrant-founded firms in the Fortune 500 include retail/wholesale (37 companies) and finance/insurance (26 companies).

Top-heavy distribution

The frequency of immigrant founders increases among the country’s very largest firms, with first- or second-generation Americans founding 52 percent of the country’s 25 largest companies, the report says.

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