New Minnesotans have entrepreneurial spirit.

Mohamud Nur and Ayan AbdinurWhen it comes to launching new businesses that could stimulate state economy, immigrants or “New Minnesotans” are far more entrepreneurial than their “Old Minnesotan” counterparts. MORE PICTURES INSIDE

That’s according to a report from Minnesota 2020, a think tank focused on issues like economic development.

That entrepreneurial spirit represents a great opportunity for the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

“It’s a multiplier effect,” MN 2020’s Lee Egerstrom said during an event in Rochester to discuss the group’s latest report, called Made in Minnesota 2012: Building Cross-Cultural Commerce.

Standing in Rochester’s African Development Center, he gestured to an illustration showing the merging economic “paths” of new immigrants and those who have lived their whole lives in Minnesota.

“They come together to form something like the mighty Mississippi,” he said. “You end up with something greater than before.”

While immigrants from all over the world launch their own businesses when they arrive here, Rochester has seen a very strong start-up spirit among its East African immigrants.

About 2,500 immigrants from Somalia are estimated to live in Olmsted County. That means they make up about 1.5 percent of the county’s population.

Ayan Abdinur, who leads the African Development Center’s office in Rochester, polled that group and found that there are about 80 Somali-owned businesses here.

“New immigrants are very entrepreneurial. It is how many of them provide for their families,” Abdinur said.

Mohamud Nur came to Rochester from Somlia in 1999. He started out here working in manufacturing for IBM, but what he really wanted was to have his own business.

After studying at Winona State University, he started Mownur Tax Service in 2007 with just 40 clients from the local East African community. It was a sideline business for Nur, whose day job then was at Charter Communications.

His seasonal tax business has grown every year since he started it. In 2010, Nur opened Hiddo Home Health Care.

Eventually, the two businesses gained enough traction for him to leave Charter and focus full-time on his own ventures.

“Mownur Tax Service now has 300 customers. Going from 40 to 300 in five years is not too bad,” he said.

He has four employees working for him at Hiddo and two more working alongside him at the tax service. Both businesses buy equipment, supplies and services from other Rochester operations.

That’s exactly the kind of escalating opportunity or “multiplier effect” that Egerstrom points to in the MN 2020 report. Supporting these New Minnesotan businesses and removing barriers that limit them is a great way to boost the state’s economy, he said.

Source: The Post-Bulletin, Rochester MN

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