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Entrepreneurship and Innovation Update – February 28, 2014

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Immigrants make cities more economically competitive. A recent post on Immigration Impact highlights a recent report from Americas Society/Council of the Americas (AS/COA) describing five ways immigrants make cities more economically competitive. Specifically, immigrants 1) contribute to a dynamic labor force and spur economic growth, 2) are more likely to start businesses and create jobs in their cities, 3) are critical to helping cities counteract population decline, keeping economies vibrant and strong, 4) make cities more attractive by raising housing values, and 5) contribute to a talented workforce through higher levels of education.

Immigrant business owners contribute to communities across America. As part of our project on immigrant entrepreneurs, innovation, and local welcoming initiatives, the American Immigration Council (AIC) recently published new fact sheets for Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wyoming. With this latest addition, all 50 state fact sheets, plus the District of Columbia, are now available in this series. These new state fact sheets highlight the importance of entrepreneurship and innovation to local economies, and ways in which local leaders encourage an inclusive environment through local welcoming and integration initiatives. Additional state information is available from AIC’s state resource pages for all fifty states.

Business leaders across the Midwest overwhelmingly back comprehensive immigration reform. A recent post on Immigration Impact describes the findings from a new Chicago Council on Global Affairs report. On comprehensive immigration reform, the report finds that 65 percent of Midwest business leaders strongly support the Senate’s (S.744) immigration reform bill passed in June 2013. The support for comprehensive reform is bipartisan, and the preference is for legislation that addresses many components of immigration reform rather than addressing individual components in a piecemeal approach. Specifically, 75 percent of Republican business leaders support the Senate’s comprehensive immigration reform bill.

Improvements to the EB-5 Investor Visa Program can strengthen its use and better accomplish its central goal of aiding regional economic development. A new report from the Brookings Institution explores the EB-5 investor visa program and how it may be better used to foster more metropolitan and regional economic development. The report suggests that by aligning similar goals in mutually beneficial arrangements among regional centers and economic development agencies (EDAs), such organizations can capitalize on their often complementary resources in order to leverage more funding and reduce risk for investors.

Immigrants and their children help grow our economy more than any other group. A new report from the Bipartisan Policy Center notes that, in the coming decades, despite an aging population and slower population growth, the U.S. has a healthier demographic outlook compared with other western countries thanks to immigration. A recent post on Immigration Impact describes the report’s results in the context of a state like Michigan and the initiatives that state is pursuing to attract immigrants. Additionally, the Center for American Progress (CAP) published an online interactive demographic data tool to exploring how immigrants impact demographic growth and change in the U.S.

Citizenship is an important component of successful immigrant integration. A recent post on Immigration Impact describes a new Center for American Progress report, which shows that there is an important citizenship premium that should be factored in to economic calculations of immigration reform. According to the report, the premium is “the bump to a country’s economy that arises after immigrants become citizens. This bump comes in the form of higher wages and more tax revenue collected from naturalized citizens, all of which spurs more overall economic activity.” During an event at CAP, experts warned that if immigration reform does not include a reasonable path to citizenship, then the U.S. is “leaving dollars on the table” due to the economic benefits that citizenship presents. Furthermore, citizenship is an important component for successful integration initiatives, particularly in communities looking for ways to grow their economies.

News Updates

More than 600 businesses, industry organizations, and chambers of commerce send letter to House Speaker John Boehner urging action on immigration reform in 2014. A February 28 post on Immigration Impact highlights a recent letter, signed by more than 600 businesses, chambers of commerce, and industry organizations, and organized by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The letter encouraged Speaker Boehner to take legislative action on immigration reform in 2014. The Chamber’s letter is the latest example of mounting support for national immigration reform from all sectors of society. Within the past year, letters from higher education administrators, Catholic and evangelical leaders, faculty and scholars, mayors from around the country, and other coalitions, have made their way to Congress.

America needs more immigrants like Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s new CEO. A February 4 article in the Washington Post highlights the selection of Satya Nadella, an immigrant from India, as the new CEO of Microsoft. The article states that this “is the latest reminder of the critical role immigrants play in America’s economy, and especially its high-tech sector. Immigrants are ubiquitous in Silicon Valley, in the nation’s best computer science programs, and in software companies across the country. And immigrants have founded and led some of America’s most important technology companies.” The article notes that we need to continue to attract such immigrant entrepreneurs and innovators to maintain the United States’ competitive edge.

What the State of the Union speech means for entrepreneurship and innovation. A January 29 article from Forbes.com describes the President’s State of the Union Speech and its relevance to immigration reform. In particular, the article notes that, as job creation is largely driven by entrepreneurship and small businesses, immigration reform is critical because "a large percentage of our innovative startup companies...are founded by immigrant entrepreneurs" and "Immigrants across the United States are investing in smaller gateway cities and revitalizing urban areas," particularly through small business formation. 

How immigration reform—or lack thereof—is hurting our economic competitiveness. A February 11 article from Forbes.com notes that “the US needs to take advantage of the global high-skilled labor supply to meet demands as our global competitors step up their game to attract the best and brightest talent…Sustaining a robust pipeline for highly-skilled workers and keeping America competitive are two sides of the same coin. Consider the alternative: if these highly trained engineers, scientists, mathematicians and programmers are not allowed to stay and work in the U.S., they’ll simply end up helping one of our global competitors grow their own economy…Fixing our immigration system is crucial as our country faces increasingly competitive challenges in the years ahead.”

Immigration reform is shaping up to affect entrepreneurs, business owners, and economic growth. A February 2 Washington Post article reviews recent ideas from Congress regarding immigration reform, particularly the Republican principles for reform, and how proposed changes may impact how business owners can recruit and hire new workers. As Michael R. Bloomberg, one of the chairs of the Partnership for a New American Economy, and former mayor of New York City, said, “we are now in a position for the first time in a generation to reach true immigration reform that will help the economy grow and create jobs.” Additionally, a February 14 piece for The Hill, Robert Caret, president of the University of Massachusetts, and Paul Guzzi, president of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, discuss why immigration reform is necessary to accelerate slow economic recovery.

Business and local government leaders make a push for immigration reform at recent events. Recent articles in USA Today and the Detroit News describe Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder’s comments at his State of the State address regarding immigration and at a recent event in Washington, D.C. “To be blunt, we have a dumb system,” Snyder said at a Partnership for a New American Economy and U.S. Chamber of Commerce event at the National Press Club that received wide press coverage. “We should just stand up and acknowledge that and say, let’s put something better in place.” In particular, Gov. Snyder, as Immigration Impact reviews in a January 24 post, described three initiatives Michigan is pursuing to attract new talent. Also speaking at the event in D.C. were former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez. As Gutierrez explained, “Our laws aren’t serving our economy.” And Bloomberg noted that it is terrible economic policy to turn away foreign born entrepreneurs and innovators while also making it difficult for foreign-born graduates to remain in the country after earning degrees from our colleges and universities.

Immigration positively impacts cities and cities are actively working to encourage existing immigrants and attract and welcome new immigrants. In a February 5 op-ed for the Detroit News, Andrew Wainer describes how immigrants are integral to the stabilization, recovery, and growth of Rust Belt communities and economies. And in a February 19 editorial, the Detroit News notes that attracting highly skilled workers to Detroit will boost economic development and opportunity for all residents. A February 6 article in the Belleville News-Democrat describes recent work by the St. Louis Mosaic Project to encourage immigrant entrepreneurship in St. Louis, highlighting that immigrants provide great entrepreneurial potential. A February 1 piece in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette describes how immigrants play an important role in creating fast-growing technology-oriented firms, and that southwest Pennsylvania has a lot to do to catch up to other cities in attracting more immigrants to the region. The article also notes that, “while small in number, the immigrants who do live in southwestern Pennsylvania are making a positive impact on the region.” Finally, a February 15 article in the Taunton Daily Gazette shows that many communities in Massachusetts have benefited from immigration, and promoting immigrant entrepreneurship is important for revitalizing central business districts.

 #IAmImmigration campaign launched to amplify voices across the country in support of immigration reform. On January 24, the Partnership for a New American Economy launched the #iAmImmigration campaign. As their site notes, “The campaign engages industries across the economy to help fix the nation’s broken immigration system. Immigration affects everyone from scientists to entrepreneurs, from farmers to students. Over the next several months the campaign will engage each of these groups and more to push for reform.”

FWD.us launches new advocacy apps to push for immigration reform. In late January, FWD.us launched their #Push4Reform app, built on an application undocumented DREAMers developed at FWD.us’s November hackathon. This web application is aimed at helping immigration reform supporters understand the positions of their Members of Congress on different immigration issues. It also facilitates constituents in communicating and connecting with Congress around these issues and urging them to take action. Additionally, FWD.us launched another app in February, #BuiltByImmigrants, which “features stories by immigrants who have made a difference in America, whether through starting companies, or contributing significantly in an industry.”

 

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