(photo credit: Nathan Jones)
California’s nickname is the Golden State. It’s where gold was discovered in 1848, it’s a state where there are fields of golden poppies that appear each spring, and there’s the iconic Golden Gate Bridge. And who can forget the golden sunsets over the Pacific?
California is also a place of opportunity. Just ask the fastest growing population in the state, Asian Americans Pacific Islanders (AAPI). The 2010 U.S. Census Bureau data reveals AAPI’s make up 15.5 percent of the population in the state.
In Los Angeles alone, AAPI’s represent the largest population in the country. According a recent report, released by Asian Americans Advancing Justice, the AAPI population increased at a rate of 20 percent. That’s nearly twice that of its Latino population at 11 percent, in a ten year period, from 2000 to 2010.
Broken down, there are nearly 930,000 Asian Americans and 7,700 Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (NHPI) immigrants in L.A. County.
“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.
Those numbers are astounding, especially when you think of the impact the AAPI community has on 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, according to recent census data,” said Hinkle.
With over 600,000 AAPI owned businesses, in the state, and sales and receipts totaling more than $182 billion annually, AAPI’s contribute significantly to a thriving economy.
Right now there are over 900,000 people employed by Asian businesses, in the state, with a $26 billion payroll.
“I don’t think people really understand the impact that Asian 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.”
“Asian small business owners are complete risk takers, they’re will 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.
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.