The big $660 billion immigration issue the candidates are not talking about

There is a huge issue the presidential candidates are not talking about when it comes to immigration: the rise of Hispanic entrepreneurs and their influence and power in the U.S. economy.

Yet it should be on their radar.

Jordi Carbonell, owner of the Cafe Con Leche coffee shop, brings an order to customers at the shop in the Mexicantown neighborhood of Southwest Detroit, Michigan.
Bryan Mitchell | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Jordi Carbonell, owner of the Cafe Con Leche coffee shop, brings an order to customers at the shop in the Mexicantown neighborhood of Southwest Detroit, Michigan.

There are now 4 million Hispanic-owned businesses in the United States, according to the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. The rank and file of this entrepreneurial group keeps rising. That's because they have been starting businesses at a pace 15 times the national average over the last decade. And these firms have been a great contributor to the U.S. economy when you consider their company revenues skyrocketed by 88 percent during this period, to approximately $661 billion, the chamber reports.

Where is the bulk of entrepreneurial activity? The Midwest is the region that has been experiencing the highest percentage of growth. It grew by more than 30 percent during the period. This is attributed to many factors, including the migration of Hispanics to the region for jobs and a low cost of living, according to the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. It is followed by the Pacific Northwest — California, Oregon, Washington and Alaska — which grew by 25 percent.

My hope is that the presidential candidates will recognize this key trend as part of their overall discussion on immigration policy. We need to recognize the value this ethnic minority has in creating jobs and prosperity in the United States.

An estimated 55 million Hispanics live in the United States, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and at 17 percent of the country's population, people of Hispanic origin are the country's largest ethnic or racial minority.

Projections by the U.S. Census Bureau reveal that 120 million Hispanics will compose 28.6 percent of the U.S. population by 2060.

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Among those of Hispanic origin currently in the country: 64 percent are of Mexican background, followed by Puerto Ricans (9.5 percent), Cubans (3.7 percent), Salvadorans 3.7 percent, Dominicans (3.3 percent) and Guatemalans (2.4 percent). The Census Bureau found that 38.4 million (73.3 percent) speak Spanish at home and an estimated 35.2 percent are foreign-born. More than two-thirds of Hispanics (67 percent) age 16 and older are in the civilian labor force.

The growth of Hispanic-owned businesses is demonstrated in a September Biz2Credit's study of 25,000 small businesses. It included 2,000 Hispanic entrepreneurs who applied for business financing on the online platform over the past 12 months.

The study showed that the number of loan applications by Hispanic entrepreneurs made through online lending marketplace Biz2Credit.com grew by 68.7 percent in the past 12 months and that Hispanic-owned companies had average annual revenues of $202,327, up from $68,540 the previous year.

Our research found that the top five states for Hispanic-owned small-business loan applications were California (23 percent), Texas (19.7 percent), New York (9 percent), Florida (8.1 percent) and Arizona (3.8 percent). All five states combined represented nearly two-thirds of loan requests by Hispanic entrepreneurs on Biz2Credit's platform, but Hispanic entrepreneurship has grown all across the country.

Meanwhile, non-Hispanic-owned companies had average annual revenues of $206,855, an increase from $70,645 in 2015, according to Biz2Credit's study of more than 25,000 small businesses, including more than 2,000 Hispanic entrepreneurs who applied for business financing on the online platform in the last year.

A major takeaway from this study is that small businesses have been performing well in the past year, and many of them are looking to expand their operations. Our analysis also revealed that the gap between non-Hispanic and Hispanic businesses is shrinking considerably.

Average net income for Hispanic businesses grew substantially in a year-to-year comparison, jumping from an average of $50,205 in 2015 to $132,693 in 2016. In comparison, non-Hispanic business owners' average annual net incomes were approximately 8 percent lower in 2016. Meanwhile, average operating expenses represented 34 percent ($69,633) of the revenue of Hispanic-owned companies, while non-Hispanic companies had average operating expenses of 41 percent ($84,700) of their revenues.

Hispanic entrepreneurs had a lower average credit score (595) than non-Hispanic business owners (608), and their companies were younger in terms of months in operation (28 months vs. 30 months) on average for all other companies. Retail trade (15.3%), accommodations/food services (13.2%) and construction (10.2%) were the three most common industries for Hispanic entrepreneurs.

The fact that the average credit score for Hispanic entrepreneurs falls below 600 is still a cause for concern, because that is a benchmark that many banks use before they even consider processing a loan request.

The champions behind this trend

So what's driving this trend? There are many reasons, among them some high-profile champions for Hispanic-owned businesses.

The SBA, led by Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet, a Mexican-born immigrant, has been a driving force for a number of initiatives for Hispanic-owned companies since assuming her position. In May 2015 the agency launched a Spanish-language version of its website, SBA.gov, to accommodate Spanish speakers. This has enabled countless entrepreneurs who do not speak English as their primary language to enjoy the benefits that the SBA offers to entrepreneurs across the nation.

As the Hispanic population continues to grow, it is critical to make sure they receive the funding and assistance to help grow their businesses. While we are seeing a greater percentage of Hispanics enter small-business ownership, there is still room for improvement.

This is an important topic that neither Donald Trump nor Hillary Clinton are talking about, but it should be on their radar.

—By Rohit Arora, CEO and co-founder of Biz2Credit, a leading online marketplace that connects entrepreneurs with small-business loan options.