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Warning on overlooking job-creation potential of immigrants.

Byline: By Robin Turner Western Mail

Research by a Welsh academic suggests that immigrants to Europe and the US actually create jobs instead of 'taking' them from local people.

And Dr Prodromos Panayiotopoulos says the jobs created by immigrants are not just in the traditional garment, restaurant or corner shop businesses.

The lecturer in Development and Sociology at Swansea University points out 40% of chief executives in California's Silicon Valley are immigrants, or from families which recently moved to the USA.

Cyprus born Dr Panayiotopoulos, 50, himself an immigrant who moved to London at the age of 15 'unable to speak a word of English' has published his research in his new book Immigrant Enterprises in Europe and the USA. The book draws on 25 years of research by Dr Panayiotopoulos, and it examines the issue of immigration, as well as the contribution immigrant enterprise plays in the economic development of cities such as London, New York, Los Angeles, Paris, Amsterdam, and Miami.

He argues many of these cities have been transformed by immigrants with limited assistance from government or the commercial banking sector. And much of this is taking place in the face of governments and their restrictive immigration policies, such as the Patriot Act in the US, passed after the September 11, 2001 attacks.

He said, 'Sectors such as garment making or even high-tech industries like those in Silicon Valley, California have been given a huge boost by immigrant entrepreneurs and workers.'

He said while immigrants were involved in hi-tech as well as low-tech businesses, the traditional immigrant enterprises played their part in creating jobs for existing residents.

He said, 'On a small scale, we see Bangladeshi restaurants in areas such as St Helens Road, Swansea, creating a demand for plates, cutlery, painting and decorating, shop signs and other services much of which is met by native workers who would otherwise be unemployed.'

The lecturer, who has been living in Swansea for 22 years 'with the help of a robust central heating system' says the bustling US city of Miami is a good example of how immigrants can boost economies.

He said, 'The place was largely a swamp but a huge influx of Cuban Hispanic immigrants led to Miami developing as a major city which is one of the world's leading tourist destinations.'

And he added that the Welsh have played their part in helping foreign economies as immigrants.

He said, 'The skills in the steel and tinplate industries were transferred to places like Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania largely by Welsh workers from places like Swansea and Llanelli.'

A new study has backed Dr Panayiotopoulos's research.

It says foreign-born entrepreneurs were behind one in four US technology startups over 10 years between 1995 and 2005.

A team of researchers at Duke University estimated that 25% of technology and engineering companies started then had at least one senior executive - a founder, chief executive, president or chief technology officer - born outside the US.

Immigrant entrepreneurs' companies employed 450,000 workers and generated $52bn in sales in 2005, according to the survey.

'It's one thing if your gardener gets deported,' said the university study's Delhi-born lead researcher, Vivek Wadhwa. 'But if these entrepreneurs leave, we're really denting our intellectual property creation.'
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Publication:Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Mar 3, 2007
Words:539
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