New American Fortune 500 in 2018: The Entrepreneurial Legacy of Immigrants and Their Children

Immigrant entrepreneurs have long been an important part of America’s economic success story. Some of the largest and most recognizable American companies were founded by immigrants or the children of immigrants, from Apple, to AT&T, to Costco. Even Bank of America was founded by Italian immigrant Amadeo Giannini, who wanted to build a bank that catered to “the little fellows”— immigrants who struggled to get loans elsewhere. [1]

NAE in the past has periodically analyzed the role of immigrants in founding the Fortune 500 companies, the group of American firms pinpointed by Fortune each year for boasting the highest revenues in the country. In the first New American Fortune 500 report, NAE found that more than two out of every five Fortune 500 firms had at least one first- or second-generation immigrant founder. [2]

In this brief, we update our analysis, this time looking at the New American companies that made the 2018 Fortune 500 list. We find 44 percent—or 219 companies—in the Fortune 500 were founded by immigrants or their children. A full 100, or one out of every five, were founded by foreign-born individuals while another 119 were founded by the children of immigrants. Of this year’s crop of New American Economy Fortune 500, several notable new companies made the cut (See Table 1).

Selected Newcomers to the New American Fortune 500

Rank

Company Name

Revenue (in Millions) Employees
173

Synchrony Financial

$16,695

16,000

229

Booking Holdings

$12,681

22,900

241

Jefferies Financial Group

$12,408

12,700

260

Tesla

$11,759

37,543

275

Molson Coors Brewing

$11,003

17,200

304

IQVIA Holdings

$9,739

55,000

306

Nvidia

$9,714

11,528

344

DCP Midstream

$8,462

343

350

News Corp.

$8,139

26,000

352

Westlake Chemical

$8,041

8,799

371

Coty

$7,650

22,000

392

Thor Industries

$7,247

17,800

398

Blackstone Group

$7,119

2,360

401

Activision Blizzard

$7,017

9,800

428

MasTec

$6,607

17,300

451

Chemours

$6,183

7,000

469

AmTrust Financial Services

$5,959

9,300

480

Toll Brothers

$5,815

4,500

489

Cheniere Energy

$5,601
496

Polaris Industries

$5,505

11,000

499

Vistra Energy

$5,430

4,150

These New American firms make enormous contributions to both the U.S. and the global economy. In fiscal year 2017, the 219 New American companies on the 2018 Fortune 500 list brought in $5.5 trillion in revenue. To put it in context, that figure is greater than the GDP of many developed countries—including Japan, Germany, and the United Kingdom. In fact, a country with a GDP equal to the revenues of the New American Fortune 500 firms would be the third largest economy in the world, behind only the United States and China. Together, these New American Fortune 500 firms also employ almost 13 million people—a population that would rank as the fifth largest state in the country, just after New York and just beating Pennsylvania.

When we look at things at the state level, New American Fortune 500 firms are significant players in some states’ economies. As seen in Table 2, there are several states that have 10 or more New American Fortune 500 companies. Leading the pack, perhaps unsurprisingly as a center for business and America’s original immigrant gateway, New York has 35. California comes in second with 25 New American Fortune 500 companies, followed by Illinois with 21, Texas with 18, and Virginia with 12. Given their numbers and size of these companies in these states, their economic impact is even more outsize compared to each state’s economy. For example, in New York, the Fortune 500 companies brought in revenue that equaled 57.3 percent of the state’s total GDP and employed more than 2 million people around the world. In Illinois, New American companies brought in combined revenue equal to 69 percent of the state’s GDP.

New American Fortune 500 by State

State Number of New American
Fortune 500 Companies
Combined Revenue
(in Millions)
Employees
(Worldwide)
AL 1 $6,093

21,714

AR 1 $5,853

12,979

AZ 2 $39,288

40,900

CA 25 $698,671

1,150,140

CO 3 $30,448

38,150

CT 6 $260,114

672,600

DE 1 $6,183

7,000

FL 10 $124,845

258,842

GA 6 $223,972

886,459

IA 1 $6,641

25,463

IL 21 $567,001

1,332,798

IN 3 $22,324

29,585

KS 1 $5,809

11,800

LA 1 $11,075

13,504

MA 6 $112,373

417,400

MD 1 $51,048

100,000

MI 6 $263,952

527,887

MN 7 $101,132

222,334

MO 4 $46,096

167,380

NC 5 $138,975

408,376

NE 1 $8,678

22,000

NJ 9 $155,732

701,767

NV 2 $23,656

119,000

NY 35 $886,023

2,044,848

OH 6 $220,601

648,926

OK 1 $12,174

2,470

OR 1 $10,087

12,899

PA 9 $328,679

557,892

TN 2 $30,558

77,000

TX 18 $485,886

703,909

VA 12 $200,323

687,144

WA 7 $363,875

897,956

WI 5 $62,152

145,107

TOTAL 219

12,966,229

The New American Fortune 500 is only one example of how immigrants and their children create American jobs and drive our economy. Medium and small businesses are also vital to the U.S. economy, employing many more millions at neighborhood stores, restaurants, professional services, and other local businesses. Immigrants have a significant role to play here, as well. Data from 2016 shows that immigrants are more likely to be entrepreneurs than their U.S.-born counterparts.

But there is also no guarantee that the next generation of top entrepreneurs will build their businesses in this country, with the vast majority of other developed nations offering attractive entrepreneurship visas and immigration programs. To continue to compete for global talent, the United States should develop visa programs and incentives that encourage, rather than discourage, the next set of New American Fortune 500 entrepreneurs.

Notes

[1] “Who Made America? A.P. Giannini,” PBS.org, accessed September 1, 2016, Available online.

[2] The Partnership for a New American Economy, “The ‘New American’ Fortune 500,” June 2011, Available online.

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