Immigrants, small businesses drive Jax Hgts economy: Report
BY BILL PARRY
Jackson Heights has been known as
one of the most diverse and dynamic
communities in the city with one of the
highest concentrations of immigrants,
many running their own businesses
and making major contributions to the
booming local economy.
On Oct. 24, state Comptroller Tom
DiNapoli came to the Lexington School
for the Deaf to release a report entitled
“An Economic Snapshot of the Greater
Jackson Heights Area” that backs that
“Jackson Heights’ diverse and dynamic
immigrant community is the
driving force behind the local economy
that has seen growth in the number of
businesses, jobs and household income,”
DiNapoli said. “Despite the neighborhood’s
economic success, some challenges
remain. The Jackson Heights
area is living proof of the positive economic
and cultural benefits immigration
brings to our communities.”
Immigrants represented 60 percent
of the area’s population in 2017, much
higher than the citywide (37 percent)
and the national (14 percent) shares.
Immigrants also made up more than
three-quarters of employed residents,
the second highest share among New
York City’s 55 Census-defined neighborhoods.
“Jackson Heights is thriving because
It’s no secret that Jackson Heights’
economy is driven by immigrants and
small businesses, but now a study by the
state Comptroller’s office illustrates it.
of its diversity,” City Councilman Daniel
Dromm said. “As Comptroller Di-
Napoli’s report illustrates, immigrants
have made our local economy strong.
Jackson Heights surpasses the citywide
and borough wide business sales
growth averages thanks to our newest
In 2018, there were 3,300 businesses
— 660 more than in 2009. Many are
small retail shops and restaurants that
reflect the neighborhood’s diversity and
early and nearly three-quarters had
fewer than five employees, and 88 percent
had fewer than 10 employees.
“Jackson Heights is showing the
nation how a vibrant immigrant community
strengthens our society, both
culturally and economically,” Congresswoman
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said.
Private sector employment reached
20,900 in 2018, 23 percent higher than
in 2009. This represents an increase of
4,000 private sector jobs, creating job opportunities
for residents. Two-thirds of
the jobs added were in retail, construction,
and leisure and hospitality.
“Immigrant small business owners
and their entrepreneurial spirit
is the lifeblood of our local economy,”
City Councilman Francisco Moys said.
“When you walk down Roosevelt Avenue,
you can smell Mexican food cooking
in taquerias, hear Dominican music
playing in the mom and pop shops, and
see people shopping in Colombian markets
or sporting Ecuadorian soccer jerseys.
Our diversity is a point of pride and
a testament that the American Dream is
an immigrant’s story.”
Of the 102,300 immigrants in the
Jackson Heights area in 2017, Ecuadorians
were the largest group representing
one-fifth (20,8000) of the immigrant
population. Dominicans were the second
largest group (14,400), followed by
Mexicans (11,800), Bangladeshis, Colombians,
Peruvians, Chinese and Indians
also made up significant shares.
“My constituents have a rich cultural
history both within their own ethnicities,
and those that they have created
through their dedication to their neighborhoods,”
“The release of this report on Jackson
Heights reaffirms all the good news
that we already knew: that Queens is
a great place to live, work and play,”
Queens Chamber of Commerce President
and CEO Thomas J. Grech said.
The U.S. Census Bureau estimates
that the unemployment rate in the greater
Jackson Heights area, which includes
North Corona and East Elmhurst, fell
from the recessionary peak of 10.3 percent
in 2010 to 4.2 percent in 2017, lower
than the rate in Queens (5.2 percent) and
the city (6.4 percent).
“The hard work and entrepreneurial
spirit of our immigrant population helps
make Jackson Heights and all of ‘The
World’s Borough’ a powerful economic
force,” Queens Borough President Melinda
Katz said. “Comptroller DiNapoli
and his team deserve to be commended
for producing this compelling report.”
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