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The Economic Impact of Immigrant-Owned Businesses

For KSMU, I’m Mike Smith. On this edition of our Sense of Community Series, we take a look at the contribution of immigrant owned businesses to the U.S. economy and how a husband and wife from Bulgaria became U.S. citizens and owners of two businesses in Springfield.

According to a Small Business Administration report written by Robert Fairlie released in November titled “Estimating the Contribution of Immigrant Business Owners to the U.S. Economy, the nearly 1.5 million immigrant business owners in the U.S. represent 12.5% of all U.S. business owners. Robert Fairlie, a Professor of Economics at the University of California Santa Cruz, is also author of “Race and Entrepreneurial Success” published by MIT Press in 2007. Fairlie says calculating the economic impact of immigrant owned businesses was challenging because of the lack of governmental data showing business ownership by nationality foreign or domestic. By “piecing together information from Census Bureau data and using net business income reported by business owners” Fairlie was able to determine the business income created to immigrant business owners amount to 67 billion dollars. Fairlie says “That represents 11.6% of all business income in the United States”. Robert Fairlies’ SBA report shows 7,151 immigrant business owners in Missouri, which represents exactly 3% of the states total number of business owners.

Krasi and Veronika Lukanov own 2 businesses in Springfield; K&V Trucking, and The Fine European Market located on South Campbell. The husband and wife emigrated from Bulgaria in 2002 and became U.S. citizens in October 2007. Veronika won a “Green Card Lottery” in Bulgaria allowing her and Krasi to leave their native country. Veronika tells KSMU that they chose to come to America believing it to be “…the land of opportunity. You get the picture from the movies that you see and the Discovery Channel. It’s a dream for everybody in Europe I believe to come to America”.Krasi Lukanov says “Since Bulgaria changed from Communism in 1990, it’s been really hard for people and the economy there to establish a good living. There you would need a lot more capital than here(in America) to do something significant. Most of the businesses in Bulgaria are already filled in. There are of course new opportunities, but it’s hard. That said, American movies sometimes make you believe things are easy, but once you’re here you realize it’s not that easy to make enough money to save and raise capital to improve yourself and start a business”.

Krasi and Veronika Lukanov were first able to save enough money to start their businesses by working for others. Upon arrival in the Ozarks in 2002, Veronika worked for what was then Famous Barr in the Battlefield Mall. Krasi worked in the food service industry. The couple then went to truck driving school and found work driving coast to coast as team drivers for CTI and then IWX. When they saved enough to purchase their own truck, they became owner-operators with IWX. Climbing the ladder even further,Krasi and Veronika were able to save enough to purchase their own trailer and established K&V Trucking Company and then start the Fine European Market. Krasi and Veronika Lukanov now employ 1 driver with K&V, and 4 workers in the Fine European Market. At 4:30 this afternoon on KSMU when our Sense of Community Series continues, we’ll visit with Krasi and Veronika at the Fine European Market.

For KSMU, I’m Mike Smith.