(photo credit: Matthew Grant Anson) Los Angeles County’s Asian American population, already the largest in the country, remained its fastest growing and increased by 20 percent.
You know the saying, “there’s strength in numbers?” Well, the Asian Pacific Islander (API) communities, in California, are proving that statement true.
According to a recent report by Asian Americans Advancing Justice, Los Angeles County’s Asian American population, already the largest in the country, remained its fastest growing and increased by 20 percent. That’s nearly twice that of the Latino population’s 11 percent over the ten-year period from 2000 to 2010.
“It’s not just happening in L.A. County, the Asian Pacific Islander communities are the nation’s fastest growing as of 2012,” said Gordon Hinkle, Director of Policy, Communications and International Affairs for the California Asian Pacific Chamber of Commerce.
Broken down, there are nearly 930,000 Asian American and 7,700 Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (NHPI) immigrants in L.A. County.
With numbers like that, it’s hard not to be a big influence, especially when it comes to the state’s economy.
“API-owned businesses have one of the fastest growing business sectors in California’s economy. The purchasing power saw the highest increase over the last 10 years, more than any other minority group,” said Hinkle. “There’s over 600,000 API owned businesses in the state that represent sales and receipts of more than $182 million annually.”
In California, there are over 900,000 people employed by Asian-owned businesses with a $26 billion payroll.
“I don’t think people really understand the impact that Asia businesses have on the California economy,” said Bill Imada, Chairman and Chief Collaboration Officer for IW Group, Inc. “Have you ever been on YouTube? Two Asian Americans helped start it. Do your daughters shop? Well, Forever 21 was started by an Asian American in Los Angeles. Ever eaten at Wahoo’s Fish Tacos? An Asian American started that company too.”
In fact, Asians account for about 15.5 percent of the total state population and API businesses now account for about 16% of the total businesses.
“Asian small business owners are complete risk takers, they’re willing to go in communities where no one else will touch–the urban poor, even some suburban areas that are run down and mostly abandoned, and take over business or start businesses that employ a lot of people,” said Imada.
It’s not just the state economy that’s getting a big boost from Asian businesses, but they’re also contributing to the global market.
“The opportunity on the international playing field is great. The global economy becomes more important in that dynamic. I think California’s strength is going to be heavily lean on those partnerships with the Asian businesses to make California strong in the global stage,” said Hinkle.
Despite these astounding numbers and a promising upward trend, it’s not always smooth sailing for these business owners who, like all small businesses, are faced with many challenges.
“We try to inform them of regulatory issues, all of the new tax laws, anything that can help make the process smoother. Our role is to keep them abreast of those issues that may have an impact on Asian business owners.”
One big one is access to capital. The topic was a big talker during the Chamber’s recent business summit.
“There was a panel discussion with bankers and other folks who have information on how Asian small business can get access to capital. It’s a focus of the California Asian Pacific Chamber of Commerce and it’s one of the most frequent questions. We work closely with the Small Business Administration, our banking partners who may have programs for disadvantaged or minority business owners to get them the funds they need.”
Understanding the impact Asian businesses have on the state and supporting their efforts will indeed, help not only the API community live the California dream, but allow California to be a better national and global competitor.
“Business is a much easier place for us to advance because we can be our own boss. We don’t have to worry about cultural issues. We don’t have to worry about the bamboo ceiling. We can be whoever we want to be and that’s the beauty of living in a place like California,” said Imada.
“We’re talking about businesses that are creating jobs and helping to sustain California’s economy. It’s a huge contributor and it’s something we can’t understate,” said Hinkle.