Indian-American Entrepreneurs and Economic Power

By Bruce P. Corrie
Tue, 2017-05-16 12:11

Maharaja’s in St. Paul Loses its Princess!

The oldest minority and immigrant business in downtown Saint Paul — Maharaja’s — will no longer be the same. Last November, Ena Bhatia, the young entrepreneur who was the heart of Maharaja’s, tragically lost her life in a motorcycle accident. Whenever I walked into the store she would greet me with an infectious smile and chat about what she was doing in the store. She added a youthful sense of humor to the store, especially around customers who would entertain her cats. Her innovative and creative spirit was on display when we celebrated Prince at the Xcel Center: Ena created a special poster showing Prince alongside other music legends. As her father Jit Bhatia says, “Minnesota lost its Prince, and Maharajah’s lost its Princess.” Beginning in April, the store will no longer be the same. Jit is transforming the business along the entrepreneurial vision of his daughter Ena.

Is America Losing its Brand?

The Brand America is a magnet that attracts top talent from around the world. Anyone can succeed with hard work and determination in this land of opportunity! This brand is under attack from within as many immigrant and minority groups feel the wave of hate touching their souls. Most recently, the successful Indian American community felt vulnerable when one person was killed in Kansas and another shot in Washington in a rage of hate. The reaction in India was very strong as media report many questioning the relevance of the Brand America and pushing back plans to visit the country. So let’s get some perspective of what Brand America stands to lose if the over-three million Indian Americans all decided to take a week’s vacation….

Total income of Indian Americans in 2015 according to the American Community Survey, was $165 billion. This is bigger than the state domestic product of Kansas of $149 billion — and eight other states. Indian American business sales volume is almost double that amount according to the Survey of Business Owners, 2012. The health care system will collapse, as highly skilled doctors and surgeons will not be around and the internet system might just go silent with many corporate giants hit by the lack of tech support and expertise.

But what is not so easily quantifiable is the decline in trust in Brand America, and with that breakdown in trust, everything in the economy is going to get more expensive and difficult. America could lose the economic premium it receives being the top economic destination of choice for people all over the world. The local Indian American community gathered recently to denounce hate crimes in any form and offered in solidarity to build up Brand America.



Bruce Corrie, PhD, blogs at and is a professor of economics at Concordia University - Saint Paul.