Migrant entrepreneurs provide vital economic and social assets in deprived urban areas, says a study of four multi-ethnic high streets located in deprived and culturally diverse parts of Birmingham, Bristol, Leicester and Manchester. The two-year Super-diverse Streets project, based at the LSE Cities research centre, explored how urban retail economies and spaces are shaped by and shape migrant practices.
Researchers conducted face-to-face surveys with over 350 proprietors and focus group workshops with proprietors, local interest groups, and local authorities. Findings reveal that migrant proprietors play a vital role in generating local employment, as well as contributing to social exchange in urban areas which have often suffered from long-term underinvestment from the public and private sectors.
In-depth research in Birmingham's Rookery Road and Leicester's Narborough Road highlights practical ways in which local authorities could better support their street-based retailers. For example, in the context of austerity and reduced local authority services, new, more flexible forms of partnership between local authorities and local trading groups need to be brokered.
Associate Professor Suzanne Hall says local authorities should do more to recognise not only the economic but also the social value of ethnic minority retailers and their contribution to local neighbourhoods.