Monday, April 22, 2013

Lessons from Orchard Street: Immigrants then and now are hard-working, risk-taking job creators

Since our country began, immigrants have started small businesses to support themselves. Some stayed small and some grew into the largest companies in the country and the world.    - - Donna Poisl

By Morris J. Vogel

John and Caroline Schneider operated a German lager beer saloon in the basement of New York's 97 Orchard St. in the 1870s. John dealt with patrons in the front, while Caroline prepared customer meals in a tiny back apartment, where the couple also slept, ate and lived.

Meanwhile, upstairs in the tenement, Natalie Gumpertz, a single mother, depended on a living room sewing machine to support her four children as a dressmaker. Other immigrant entrepreneurs, such as Harris Levine, followed her, running full-scale garment sweatshops in the building's cramped tenement homes.

Small business in America is not always glamorous and not always a path to fortune. But for generations, small business has been a path out of poverty for hard-working, risk-taking Americans and, along the way, one of the principal drivers of new job growth in America. And for generations, immigrants have played an outsize role as this country's entrepreneurs.
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1 comment:

Amy said...

Thank you for posting! This is a viewpoint on immigration that I wish more people would take.