Orinoco creates jobs on both sides of the border

@CNNMoney May 8, 2012: 8:24 AM ET
Immigrants like Hector Correa, who launched a software developing company, are twice as likely to create a firm than those born in the United States.

Immigrants like Hector Correa, who launched a software developing company, are twice as likely to create a firm than those born in the United States.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Hector Correa came to the United States seeking opportunities, and he's made it his personal mission to create them himself -- both here and back in Mexico.

He is the co-owner of Chicago software developer Orinoco Systems, which has created programs for local governments and companies like Sara Lee and Kraft.

But he has humble beginnings.

Correa was raised in the poor outskirts of the Mexican city Chihuahua, inside a tiny, single-room, cinder block home where the stove was a few steps from the beds. His mother had dropped out at 17 to give birth to him, and his father juggled college and work at a lumber company.

On his parents' savings, he attended an American college and later earned a Fulbright Scholarship for graduate school.

An H-1B visa allowed him to work for a tech consulting firm in Chicago.

But in 2008, he and a Venezuelan counterpart, Diego Ferrer, noticed the firm kept losing deals to Indian companies.

Indian tech firms were able to undercut American companies because of lower labor costs. That's when Correa and Ferrer decided to launch their own U.S.-based firm, using engineers in both the U.S. and Mexico, where wages are also lower. Another advantage on their side: Mexico is largely in the same time zone as the United States.

Now 38, Correa prides himself in having created more than two dozen jobs in Chicago and Chihuahua, where he said few opportunities exist outside of free trade-zone factories, known as maquiladoras.

"We strongly believe that we have to give back to communities where you live. It was very satisfying to give people work in Chihuahua," Correa said.

He challenges the concept that immigrants merely take American jobs, noting that he has helped create them in both countries.

"Trying to make a cookie-cutter picture of immigration in the United States is wrong," Correa said. "I was given a golden opportunity to come to this country, and I saw an opportunity to create a business."

Read more about immigrant Hispanic small business owners:

El Pichy Films: A joke turned into a company

Kanti Organics founder left Colombia and never looked back

Refundo offers mobile banking for Spanish speakers

From tiny jungle town to a gourmet city shop called MarieBelle To top of page

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