Regional Immigrant Entrepreneur Storytelling Project

Adaptation, Community, and Identity

Elevating the Stories and Presence of Asian Immigrant Entrepreneurs
across the Region

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In 2019, the MAPC Economic Development Team conducted outreach to the Asian immigrant entrepreneur community in Quincy as part of a municipal small business study. During this outreach, the team worked with Quincy Asian Resources Inc (QARI), a local non-profit that focuses on providing resources for primarily the immigrant Asian community of Quincy and the region.

The feedback collected during this process anecdotally told a story of a thriving business community in Quincy bolstered by immigrant East Asian small business owners who struggled to find services that met their needs at the municipal level. Additionally, as MAPC wrapped up the outreach phase of the small business study, an unthinkable crisis occurred in the community. The COVID-19 pandemic not only led to xenophobic responses to the East Asian owned businesses in Quincy, but these businesses were also severely affected by the social distancing measures put in place.

The xenophobia unleashed in Quincy during the pandemic highlights key challenges to achieving racial equity in Quincy and the entire MAPC region. Between 1990-2016, there has been a 350,000 person increase in Greater Boston’s Asian American population. This is a growing population that needs support and access to local government services, but today access to culturally-responsive services and representation amongst decision-makers continues to be a challenge among Asian communities. Discrimination pre-dates the public health crisis, and with the arrival of COVID-19, has led to xenophobia and violence of words and actions, such as those we have seen in response to the fears of COVID-19 being a "Chinese Virus."

In response to the unprecedented challenges of both COVID-19 and the social barriers that existed prior to the pandemic, MAPC is initiating a regional storytelling project that focuses on stories of resilient Asian immigrant entrepreneurs. The goal is to provide a platform for immigrant entrepreneurs of Asian descent to share their experiences as small business owners both before and during COVID-19. While aspects of the project and the policy recommendations will be regional in nature, it is important that stories are told in the context of local issues. The first phase of this project focused on Quincy.

Quincy Asian Resources Inc (QARI)

Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Corporation (BCNC)

Asian Community Development Corporation

Chinatown Main Streets

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In response to the unprecedented challenges of both COVID-19 and the social barriers that existed prior to the pandemic, MAPC is initiating a regional storytelling project that focuses on stories of resilient Asian immigrant entrepreneurs. The goal is to provide a platform for immigrant entrepreneurs of Asian descent to share their experiences as small business owners both before and during COVID-19. While aspects of the project and the policy recommendations will be regional in nature, it is important that stories are told in the context of local issues. The first phase of this project started in June 2020 and focused on Quincy.

For questions or more information, please contact Economic Development Planner II, Jennifer Emiko Kaplan.

Data Analysis

To understand immigrant entrepreneur communities in Greater Boston, MAPC analyzed population demographics and business data to identify the locations of immigrant communities which are also host to concentrated areas of immigrant-owned businesses. As part of the analysis, we identified “Immigrant Entrepreneur Communities” as well as, in particular, “Asian Immigrant Entrepreneur Communities.”

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Video-Lets

Interviews from Small Business Owners in Quincy - Coming soon!

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Video 1

Video 2

Video 3

Data Analysis

To understand immigrant entrepreneur communities in Greater Boston, MAPC analyzed demographic data from the U.S. Census. While Census data cannot give us a complete picture of all the vibrant and diverse immigrant communities in Massachusetts, we started by identifying areas where the largest proportion of residents report owning their own business, being born outside the US and/or speaking a language other than English at home, and identify themselves as Asian. We identified regions with the highest proportion of residents with these and other indicators of being Asian immigrant entrepreneurs.

The region combining Quincy and Milton had the highest proportion of Asian immigrant entrepreneurs per capita. About a quarter of Quincy’s population and about one in twenty residents of Milton speak an Asian language at home. In both Quincy and Milton, the most-represented Asian ethnicity is Chinese followed by Vietnamese.

The seven regions with the next-highest estimated proportion of Asian immigrant entrepreneurs are the following:

  • Malden and Medford
  • Newton and Brookline
  • Waltham, Lexington, Burlington, Bedford, and Lincoln
  • Randolph, Norwood, Dedham, Canton, and Holbrook
  • Quincy and Milton
  • Wayland, Weston, Wellesley, Needham, Dover, Westwood, and Sherborn
  • Lowell

We also identified regions with high rates of immigrant entrepreneurs of any race or ethnicity per capita. Six of the eight regions with the highest proportion of Asian immigrant entrepreneurs also fell into the eight regions with the highest proportion of immigrant entrepreneurs of any race or ethnicity. The region combining Framingham, Marlborough, and Natick had the highest estimated proportion of immigrant entrepreneurs. Other regions with high shares of immigrant entrepreneurs are the following:

  • Somerville and Everett
  • Revere, Chelsea, and Winthrop
  • Malden and Medford
  • Newton and Brookline
  • Waltham, Lexington, Burlington, Bedford, and Lincoln
  • Randolph, Norwood, Dedham, Canton, and Holbrook
  • Quincy and Milton

PUMAs by percent population Asian Immigrant Entrepreneurs

Norfolk County (Northeast) Quincy and Milton: 1.3% +/- 0.3% are Asian entrepreneurs who are either foreign born or speak a language other than English at home.

    • In Quincy, more than 25% (25.7 +/- 1.2%) of the population speaks an Asian language at home (ACS 2014-2018). The most-represented Asian ethnicity is Chinese, followed by Vietnamese.
    • In Milton, only 5.4% of the population speaks an Asian language at home. The most-represented Asian ethnicity is Chinese, followed by Vietnamese (data from 2010).

Norfolk (Northeast) & Middlesex (Southeast) Counties (West of Boston): 0.48 +/- 0.15% of residents are Asian entrepreneurs who are either foreign born or speak a language other than English at home.

    • Wellesley: 8.4 +/- 1.0% of residents speak an Asian language at home.
    • Needham: 5.5 +/- 0.96% of residents speak an Asian language at home.
    • Wayland: 7.7 +/- 1.4% of residents speak an Asian language at home.
    • Westwood: 6.5 +/- 1.7% of residents speak an Asian language at home.
    • Weston: 5.7 +/- 1.8% of residents speak an Asian language at home.
    • Dover: 4.6 +/- 2.0% of residents speak an Asian language at home. The most-represented Asian ethnicity is Chinese, followed by Korean.
    • Sherborn: 2.51% +/- 1.4% of residents speak an Asian language at home.
    • In each municipality, the most-represented Asian ethnicity is Chinese, followed by Korean.

Norfolk County (Central)—Randolph, Norwood, Dedham, Canton & Holbrook: 0.46 +/- 0.16% of residents are Asian entrepreneurs who are either foreign born or speak a language other than English at home.

    • Randolph: 9.5 +/- 1.7% of residents speak an Asian language at home. The most-represented Asian ethnicity is Vietnamese, followed by Chinese.
    • Dedham: Less than 5% of residents speak an Asian language at home. The most-represented Asian ethnicity is Chinese, followed by Filipino.
    • Holbrook: The most-represented Asian ethnicity is Vietnamese, followed by Filipino.
    • Canton: The most-represented Asian ethnicity is Chinese, followed by Vietnamese.
    • Norwood: The most-represented Asian ethnicity is Chinese, followed by Filipino.

PUMAs by percent population Asian Immigrant Entrepreneurs

Middlesex County—Waltham City, Lexington, Burlington, Bedford, and Lincoln Towns: 0.75 +/- 0.21% of the population are Asian entrepreneurs who are either foreign born or speak a language other than English at home.

    • In Lexington, 18% +/- 1.4% of the population speak an Asian language at home.
    • In Bedford, 11 +/- 2.2% of the population speak an Asian language at home.
    • In all cities and towns in the PUMA, the most-represented Asian ethnicity is Chinese, followed by Korean (data from 2010).
    • The lowest concentration of people speaking an Asian language at home exists in Lincoln, where 5.4 +/- 2.4% of residents speak an Asian language at home.

Middlesex (Southeast) & Norfolk (Northeast) Counties—Newton City & Brookline Town: 0.58 +/- 0.20% of residents are Asian entrepreneurs who are either foreign born or speak a language other than English at home.

    • Brookline: 12% +/-1.2% of residents speak an Asian language at home (ACS 2014-2018).
    • Newton: 10% +/- 0.75% of residents speak an Asian language at home (ACS 2014-2018)
    • In both municipalities in the PUMA, the most-represented Asian ethnicity is Chinese, followed by Korean (data from 2010).

Middlesex County (East)—Malden % Medford Cities: +/- 0.18% of residents are Asian entrepreneurs who are either foreign born or speak a language other than English at home.

    • Malden: 19% of residents speak an Asian language at home.
    • Medford: 6.5 +/- 6.5% of residents speak an Asian language at home.
    • In both municipalities, the most-represented Asian ethnicity is Chinese, followed by Vietnamese.

Middlesex County (South): Framingham, Marlborough, & Natick: 0.46 +/- 0.17 of residents are Asian entrepreneurs who are either foreign born or speak a language other than English at home.

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