Abstract

Immigration is changing the U.S. South in unprecedented ways. First and later generations of Latinos and Asians comprise increasing portions of the population in towns and cities across the region. Some of these newcomers have started entrepreneurial business ventures rather than going to work for someone else. This research examines the forces driving the spatial patterns of and civic leader response to immigrant-owned entrepreneurial establishments in Birmingham, Alabama, a middle-tier metropolitan area. The paper answers the following questions: (1) Why did immigrant businesses begin moving into Birmingham during the last decade and a half? (2) Where are ethnic entrepreneurs opening up retail shops and why? (3) What are the attitudes of city officials towards these multi-ethnicbusiness enclaves? These questions are addressed using a mixed-method approach that includes census data analysis, archival research, personal observations and semi-structured open-ended interviews.

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