June 14, 2012. An article by Kevin C. Keller, Denver Post.

Immigrant-owned small businesses bring in an average of $684 million a year to Colorado, according to a newly released study by the Fiscal Policy Institute in New York.

The $684 million figure, determined using revenues from 2006 through 2010, represents 7 percent of earnings for all small businesses in Colorado. A small business was defined as a privately held firm with fewer than 100 employees.

The report found there are just more than 13,000 immigrant-owned firms in the state. That accounts for 11 percent of all small businesses in Colorado.

The Fiscal Policy Institute used data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.

Kathy White, deputy project director at the Colorado Fiscal Policy Institute, said she was surprised at the number of immigrant-owned businesses in Colorado.

“Immigration in our state is growing,” White said. “They share our entrepreneurial spirit. While continuing to grow their businesses, they have employed people, and it’s becoming an integral part of the local economy.”

Foreign-born immigrants make up 11.7 percent of the Colorado workforce, according to the study.

Nationally, immigrants are 16 percent of the workforce, and 18 percent of small businesses are immigrant-owned.

The shares of immigrants in the workforce and of immigrant-owned small businesses have about doubled in Colorado in 20 years.

Nationally, both rates have increased, but not as rapidly.

Sisay Teklu, executive director of Community Enterprise Development Services, said Colorado has a great environment for immigrant businesses.

“The business environment is very friendly to small-business startups,” said Teklu, an African immigrant. “Many of the immigrants I see in Denver are coming from Boston; Washington, D.C.; and California, not directly from their country. When you compare rent, Denver is very reasonable, and if you want to take care of your family and establish solid harmony, they prefer Colorado.”

Community Enterprise Development Services is based in Denver and provides financing for low-income to moderate-income immigrants and refugees.

Colorado is one of only 19 states where a U.S.-born member of the labor force is more likely to own a small business than someone from the foreign-born labor force.