NE OHIO NEEDS TO ATTRACT IMMIGRANTS:
SKILLED-WORKERS, ENTREPRENEURS, INVESTORS
By: Rose A. Zitiello, Esq.
Richard T. Herman, Esq.
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Globalizing NE Ohio Is a
Necessary Path for Growth
NE Ohio is the proverbial ostrich with its head in the sand hoping that globalization will go away, that jobs will not be sent packing to overseas markets with cut-rate labor and production costs, and that Cleveland’s progressive depopulation will stabilize and correct itself.
This approach has not been successful.
NE Ohio’s current predicament begs the question: Does globalization always have to be a negative, destabilizing force, or can globalization forces be harnessed for local economic development and job creation?
The answer is “yes” if we collectively decide to “go global” and develop a new globalization culture that enhances and touts NE Ohio as a world-class manufacturing region, an international leader in medical technology and health care, and a multicultural mecca that is connected to world talent, capital, and entrepreneurship.
Immigrants Hold a Key to Thriving Locally
in the Global Economy
Why start with immigrants? Three reasons: 1.) Immigrant influx can help counteract urban depopulation and increase income and real estate tax revenue for the region; 2.) Immigrants can help facilitate the worldwide networking and connectivity that is necessary in recruiting international talent, business, and capital; 3.) Waves of new immigrants are revitalizing U.S. cities with an infusion of new entrepreneurship, consumer markets, and a creative energy inherent in multicultural meccas.
Census 2000 has taught us that the U.S. is undergoing an economic and ethnic transformation fueled by new waves of immigration from Latin and Asian countries. Nearly 60% of all population growth in the 1990s was attributed to historic levels of immigration.
Hispanic and Asian-American purchasing power is $1 trillion annually. During the 1990s, Asian and Hispanic-owned businesses improved revenues by more than 415 percent. Businesses owned by Middle Eastern and African immigrants are similarly making great strides in the U.S.
Attracting new skilled immigrants will also be necessary to help alleviate the coming skilled labor shortage in the U.S. As the baby boomers retire, the workforce will stop growing. A “skilled worker gap” will start to appear in 2005 and grow to 5.3 million workers by 2010, and 14 million 10 years later.
New immigrants are not just creating new consumer markets, opening small neighborhood businesses, and filling skilled and unskilled worker gaps, they are also creating new technology industries and creating jobs. Cities like Austin, Denver, Boston, and San Jose have greatly benefited from high levels of immigrant technology talent helping to shape a work force with skills that firms need. Almost 25% of the founders of the biotech companies in the U.S. that went public in the early 1990s are immigrants.
In 1998, immigrant entrepreneurship collectively accounted for more than $16.5 billion in sales and over 58,000 jobs in Silicon Valley.
But its not just high-tech centers that are benefiting from targeted immigrant influx. The Spartanburg-Greenville region of South Carolina has become a world-class center for manufacturing, attracting foreign direct investment from more than 215 companies in 18 countries. This hill country region of South Carolina boasts the highest diversified foreign investment per capita in the United States.
The high entrepreneurial factor within immigrant communities, coupled with scientific accomplishment, international networks of fellow countrymen providing seed capital and access to inexpensive overseas labor markets, provide a formidable combination that can be leveraged for local growth.
Regions Around the U.S Are Already Employing
Immigration and Globalization Policies
Immigrant clusters have helped to revitalized cities and spurred growth through technology start-ups; international trade; small neighborhood proprietorship; real estate renovation; repopulation in distressed areas; infusion of youth; workforce development in shortage areas (such as nursing); creation of tourist attractions; and emerging multicultural consumer markets.
Cities such as Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Indianapolis, Louisville, Philadelphia, Minneapolis, and Schenectedy, and the state of Iowa, have recently employed ways to partner with their existing immigrant communities in order to pro-actively attract more of their countrymen, whether residing in or outside the U.S., to relocate to an immigrant-friendly destination for starting or expanding business operations.
Cleveland Ranks Near the Bottom of the Largest 50 Cities
In Attracting New Immigrants
However, Cleveland is not attracting its share of new immigrants, and it is suffering for it. A recent report by demographer William Frey found that Cleveland is ranked near the bottom of the 50 largest metropolitan areas in the nation in its share of new immigrants.
Dr. Sanda Kaufman of Cleveland State University recently released a study entitled, “Immigration and Urban Development: Implications For Greater Cleveland,” which concludes that Cleveland needs to attract more immigrants who can populate the region and help revitalize the economy
As part of the plan to increase Cleveland’s population to at least 500,000 by 2010, Mayor Jane Campbell has convened the “Civic Task Force on International Cleveland” to examine ways that immigration policies can be used to repopulate and revitalize Cleveland.
Globalization and domestic multicultural markets are here to stay. To survive and thrive in these seismic shifts of the new global marketplace, Multicultural meccas with hyper global connectivity will dominate the 21st century. Cleveland’s rich diversity and immigrant history provide a key to its future economic renaissance.
Rose Zitiello and Richard Herman are Cleveland attorneys and authors of “In the New Global and Multicultural Marketplace, Immigrants Hold a Key to Revitalizing NE Ohio” which can be viewed at www.rcjresources.com/Go Global/default.htm
To learn more about the economic and cultural development opportunities presented by immigrants to NE Ohio, attend “From There to Here: New Immigrants Redefining Our Community” presented by Tri-C’s Global Issues Resource Center on November 6, 2003. For info call: 216-987-2224. www.global-issues.org.