Empowering New York’s Asian American Community Since 1989

New Report on Asian Small Businesses in New York City

New York City: The Asian American Federation released our latest report, NYC’s Economic Engine: Contributions and Challenges of Asian Small Businesses, at a half-day conference yesterday. The keynote speaker was New York’s Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, who affirmed the importance of Asian-owned small businesses to New York’s economic vitality. We were also joined by speakers Bomi Kim of New York City Economic Development Corporation and Che Lai Chang of East West Bank, who discussed the ways in which the government and private sectors were supporting small businesses. We also heard from small business owners Victor Chan of Sushi-teria, Ikhwan Rim of Rim’s Jewelry, and Tariq Islam of AI Engineers, Inc. about the challenges they face as business owners.

In NYC’s Economic Engine, we highlight the economic contributions of Asian-owned businesses as well as the specific challenges that Asian owners face in growing and sustaining their businesses. To illustrate, Asian businesses accounted for half of net new economic activity and half of net new paid employment in New York City from 2002-2012. At the same time, self-employed Asians had 10-percent lower median wages and earnings compared to their non-Asian counterparts.

Key findings of this report include:

The number of Asian-owned businesses in New York City grew faster than the overall number of businesses from 2002-2012. In fact, Asian-owned businesses accounted for 31 percent of net new businesses during that time period.
Asian-owned businesses were concentrated in service sectors, including taxi and limousine services, retail, personal care services including beauty and nail salons, food services, and construction. In other words, Asian-owned firms were more likely to be in the services sectors with lower wages overall.
While Chinese-owned businesses accounted for almost half of all Asian-owned businesses, the largest growth in the number of businesses occurred among Japanese- and Other Asian-owned businesses, with Bangladeshi and Pakistani owners making up the bulk of Other Asian business owners.
Self-employment may be the option some Asian workers take because they are shut out of the mainstream job market due to language skills or citizenship status.
We make the following recommendations to the City to better support Asian-owned small businesses:

Address the growth and diversity among Asian small businesses. Tackle the diversity of languages spoken in the city and build comprehensive and robust assistance programs that reach all of the potential entrepreneurs in the Asian community.
Improve awareness of existing programs that help Asian-owned businesses comply with rules and regulations by creating a single point of contact for Asian owners and by working with chambers of commerce and business associations to provide relevant education to small businesses.
Create new programs or enhance existing ones that support the expansion of small businesses.
Develop training programs that improve the skills of small business workers, such as English classes that address workplace needs and workforce training programs that are closely aligned with small business needs.
Jo-Ann Yoo, executive director of the Federation, said, “Asian small businesses have increasingly become a vital economic force in New York City, and this report finally provides the numbers to prove that our city depends on Asian entrepreneurs to sustain its economic activity and employment rate. For that reason, we owe it to our small business owners to provide them with the necessary access to in-language information and training that will help them succeed and thrive in this city.”

“Asian-owned small businesses were borne out of necessity,” said Howard Shih, research and policy director of the Federation. “Yet, despite being shut out of mainstream jobs due to limited English proficiency and/or citizenship status, Asian New Yorkers have found a way to shape the very fabric of this city’s economy. With real investment in their education and training, we are certain to see a great return on our investment in the long term.”

We thank East West Bank for their generous support of our report and conference as well as Empire BlueCross BlueShield and AARP for their co-sponsorship of our conference.

The FULL report is available here.

CONTACT: Howard Shih
2123445878, Ext:219
[email protected]