From the Director: Global Detroit and Midwest Immigrant Entrepreneurship Efforts Highlighted before Congress

By Steve Tobocman

On Wednesday, January 15, I was honored to speak at a Capitol Hill briefing organized by the American Immigration Council and Immigration Policy Center on Revitalization in the Heartland: Welcoming Immigrant Entrepreneurs for Economic Development.  The event was moderated by AIC Director Ben Johnson and included myself, Betsy Cohen from the St. Louis Mosaic Project and Himar Hernandez from the Iowa State University Extension & Outreach Office.

About 50 people attended to hear how the nation’s heartland was moving forward at recognizing immigration as an economic stimulant that provides jobs and prosperity to local communities–including the non-immigrants in those communities.  Each of us explained how our organizations and supporters came to this realization and decided to move forward and embrace immigration as an opportunity for our local communities.

It was especially thrilling to have Eric Brown, Governor Snyder’s Senior Federal Policy Representative, in attendance.  Michigan was the envy of many in the room, to see a Republican Governor who clearly understands the economics inherent in the immigration issue and is not afraid to acknowledge the positive experience immigrants have brought and will bring to Michigan.

While it remains unclear if the Congress will move pieces of the Senate immigration reform legislation, pass a comprehensive bill, or do nothing on the issue in 2014, I am confident that Global Detroit, St. Louis Mosaic, Iowa State University’s Extension Office and the other visionary programs on-the-ground in the Midwest will be accomplishing groundbreaking results in welcoming immigrant talent and investment, integrating immigrations into our local economies, and reaping the benefits in terms of regional growth, prosperity, and improved quality of life.

I look forward to working with the other Global Great Lakes Network participants in moving our region and nation forward.  Thanks to Ben Johnson and the excellent paper prepared by Paul McDaniel about Detroit, St. Louis, and Iowa.  A great day and event.

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