Cities and regions can make the most of immigration through local dividends. A recent statement from the Migration Policy Institute’s Transatlantic Council on Migration notes that “well-managed immigration can be a windfall for local economies by creating jobs and fueling growth, fostering innovation, and bringing in new revenue.” But, as the report notes, these benefits are not automatic nor are they evenly accrued. The statement examines ways in which policymakers at all levels can work together and launches a new series of reports on the topic of “Cities and Regions: Reaping Migration’s Local Dividends.” The series will examine “place-based immigration and entrepreneurship policies, city attractiveness, social cohesion, and means to build inclusive cities.” One of the first reports in the series explores ways in which cities and regions can have a voice in immigration policy, which is often set at the national level.
In the context of a broader economic development strategy, immigration may be a promising tool for boosting Detroit’s economic prospects. Another new report from the Transatlantic Council on Migration, authored by Steve Tobocman of Global Detroit, explores Detroit’s historical context, population and economic changes, immigrants in Detroit, and immigration as a component of Detroit’s current economic strategy. In particular, the report examines immigration’s potential to support Detroit’s economic growth strategy, opportunities to retain international talent and immigrant residents, as well as possible challenges.
New report explores challenges immigrant entrepreneurs face and policies to support immigrant entrepreneurship. A report from the Migration Policy Institute describes various challenges faced by immigrant entrepreneurs, including difficulties accessing credit, lack of familiarity with local markets and the local business environment, difficulties dealing with administrative hurdles, and immigration and visa policies. The report then explores policies to support immigrant entrepreneurship, including business support programs and structural policies promoting an entrepreneurship-friendly environment. The report concludes with three recommendations: rely on both mainstream and targeted business-support measures, embed business-support programs in a broader policy framework, and develop public-private partnerships.
Reports recommend expanding the number of immigrant entrepreneurs to bolster business dynamism in cities and metro areas. Two newreports from the Brookings Institution this summer explore declining business dynamism in the U.S. over the past two decades. As the authors recommend, one way to inject new vitality into America’s business dynamism is “to significantly expand the numbers of immigrant entrepreneurs granted permanent work visas to enter and remain in this country. Allowing foreign graduates of U.S. schools who concentrate in the so-called STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and math) to remain in the United States to work for other enterprises is also an imperative, especially given the historical pattern indicating that immigrants are twice as likely to launch businesses as native-born Americans.”
Immigrant-owned businesses with transnational activities fare better than non-immigrant-owned firms. A recent study published in the journal Small Business Economics notes that “entrepreneurship and business ownership provide an avenue of economic progress for immigrants as well as an important source of job creation, innovation, and economic growth.” Specifically, this study “investigates the characteristics of immigrant-owned businesses that have transnational economic activities, as well as how these activities are associated with their performances measured by employment, sales, and payroll.” The study finds that “immigrant-owned firms with transnational activities have better performances than non-immigrant firms without transnational activities, if measured by employment, total sales, and total payrolls.” Therefore, “transnational economic activities are positively associated with improved economic prospects of immigrant-owned firms.”
Cincinnati and Springfield, Ohio join Dayton and Columbus efforts to be more immigrant friendly. As part of a growing trend of cities becoming more welcoming, Cincinnati’s Mayor John Cranley recently kicked off a 78-member task force on immigration with the goal to make Cincinnati the most immigrant-friendly city in the country. And Springfield, which is in House Speaker John Boehner’s congressional district, also officially became more welcoming toward immigrants through the efforts of Welcome Springfield.
Incubator farms nurture agriculture immigrant entrepreneurs. A July 28 article in the Aurora Sentinel describes how programs across the country are applying the business incubator model to farming. As the article notes, “a physicist from Armenia, a juice-maker from Bermuda and a Burmese sushi chef are crafting new careers in agriculture” under such programs. “It’s giving me an opportunity to implement business ideas that I hadn’t had a chance to before,” said Damon Brangman, 43, an immigrant from Bermuda who wants to grow his own vegetables for the mobile juice business he runs with his wife in Ithaca. As the article observes, “there are about 105 incubator farms in 38 states, many of them still in the planning stage or just a few years into operation, according to the National Incubator Farm Training Initiative at Tufts University in Massachusetts. The program, launched in 2012, advises new incubator farms and helps farmers connect with them. More than half the farms serve immigrants and refugees, but others nurture a range of new farmers including young people, career changers and retirees.”
Public markets support small businesses owned by immigrants. A June 16 article in Next City describes examples of how public markets offer immigrant entrepreneurs opportunities to sell their goods and services. Entrepreneurial immigrant farmers find opportunities to sell a variety of locally grown specialty food products at local farmers markets. As the article notes, “public markets are increasingly an ideal place for women, minority and immigrant entrepreneurs to get a foothold in the American economy.”
U.S. losing tech talent to Canada. A July 30 piece for CNN Money describes how Canada is much more welcoming to entrepreneurs from abroad than is the U.S. As the article states, “many entrepreneurs have given up on navigating the complicated U.S. immigration system [and] are heading to Canada to launch their startups.” While the U.S. currently does not have a startup visa for foreign-born entrepreneurs, Canada has been “courting entrepreneurs and paving a way for citizenship through a startup visa program that launched in April 2013.”
IMPRINT Project reviews skilled immigrant integration around the globe. What can the United States learn from other countries regarding skilled immigrant integration? A recent guide from IMPRINT provides an overview. The brief notes that, “while the United States has long been a beacon for highly skilled immigrants, it has typically taken a hands-off approach to integrating newcomers. In contrast, Canada takes a more proactive approach.” The document provides examples of skilled immigrant integration initiatives from other countries of good ideas that could be transferrable to places in the U.S. One example from the U.S. is the Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians, which recently announced plans to grow its programs that assist “eligible immigrants to re-establish their professional careers by helping them secure industry credentials.”
MIT graduate from Greece develops cutting-edge technology in wireless electricity. A recent article for the Partnership for a New American Economy describes the experiences of Aristeidis Karalis, a graduate of MIT from Greece. Karalis developed a cutting-edge technology in wireless electricity. After garnering interest from angel investors, Karalis, along with several other scientists, founded WiTricity Corporation. WiTricity, based in Watertown, Massachusetts, is working on commercializing the technology. The firm employs around 55 people and has raised tens of millions of dollars in financing.
Stanford MBA grad returns to Mexico to start two successful companies. As another article for the Partnership for a New American Economy describes, Oswaldo Trava Albarrán, a graduate of Stanford Business School had to return to Mexico due to work visa issues in the U.S. He has since founded two successful companies in Mexico: LoMioEs TUYO and InstaFit.
German immigrant makes notable contribution to biosciences. A July 8 piece from the Partnership for a New American Economy describes German immigrant and biochemist Jonas Korlach and his invention, while at Cornell University, of a machine that allowed scientists to read the entire human genome faster than ever before. According to the article, the machine that resulted from Korlach’s invention “is now the capstone of an entire company: Pacific Biosciences, a firm that reported revenues of almost $34 million and a staff of almost 300 people in 2011.”
British entrepreneur moves to U.S. to found successful audiovisual equipment company. As a recent article from the Partnership for a New American Economy states, “after transferring his already successful audiovisual company from Europe to the United States, Mark Wilkins founded Stampede, a large distributor of audiovisual equipment, here in the United States, based in upstate New York.” Wilkins, originally from the United Kingdom, employs over 120 people through Stampede, and is set to generate $180 million in revenues this year.
Consumer Electronics Association spotlights eleven people to follow covering skilled immigration reform on Twitter. A July 31 article from the Consumer Electronics Association recently identified several “helpful” twitter accounts that are useful to follow for anyone interested in immigrant entrepreneurship and innovation. Among those included are U.S. Senators Dick Durbin and Jeff Flake, New York Times correspondent Julia Preston, Co-Founder of AOL Steve Case, and the American Immigration Council’s Paul McDaniel, who the article noted offers a “well-curated view of state, national and international factors in the immigration reform debate.”