Thursday, July 26, 2018

Immigration Article of the Day: The Unsung Latino Entrepreneurs of Appalachia by Eric Franklin Amarante


The Unsung Latino Entrepreneurs of Appalachia by Eric Franklin AmaranteWest Virginia Law Review, Forthcoming  


The story of Latinos in Appalachia, when told, is dominated by the plight of migrant workers drawn to meat processing factories or agricultural work, with very little attention paid to Latino entrepreneurship in Appalachia. However, the first generation of migrant workers inspired a surprising collateral entrepreneurial effect: a raft of small businesses owned by (and focused on) the new Latino population surged into small town Appalachia. These businesses, which include restaurants, tiendas, pastelerias, and tortillerias, not only serve the growing Latino population, but also have a tremendously positive effect on local and state economies. These businesses hire employees, rent previously unused commercial space, increase the local demand for goods and services, and provide much-needed tax revenue. The phenomenon of Latino entrepreneurship is an unmitigated positive for small towns that have otherwise experienced great difficulty in producing and promoting small business activity.

This Essay will focus on the economic effect of Latino-owned businesses in Appalachia and will conclude with some strategies that might help support these businesses, including providing Spanish translations of local and state business forms (e.g., formation documents, annual reports, etc.), simplifying state business entity and licensing regimes, and changing the requirements for the visa program based upon business investment.


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Thanks for the post. About a week before this piece went to press, the article’s featured town suffered a massive immigration raid. It devastated the Latino community, leaving the town's residents paralyzed with fear. I am working on an empirical piece that will focus on this town, in an attempt to measure the economic effect of immigration raids on small Appalachian towns. I anticipate that it will support my thesis, and I (perhaps naively) hope it can curb enthusiasm for such aggressive immigration enforcement. I’d appreciate any and all suggestions for resources.

Posted by: Eric Franklin Amarante | Jul 26, 2018 8:40:09 AM

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