Nearshoring refers to the practice of attracting global businesses to Detroit whose growth and expansion is otherwise hindered by restrictive U.S. immigration laws. American businesses, particularly in industries critical to the new economy, can face significant hurdles to engaging the world’s most talented workers because of restrictive U.S. immigration laws. Since the H-1B skilled worker visa cap was rolled back to 65,000, the demand by U.S. firms for these visas has far exceeded the supply, usually surpassing the cap only days after the application period is opened. As a result, U.S. firms have been forced to locate facilities in other countries where immigration laws allow them to hire such workers. In 2007, Microsoft, for instance, opened its new software development center in Vancouver and pointed to restrictive U.S. immigration laws as the cause of locating such a facility outside the U.S.
Global Detroit advocates for a more strategic plan for Detroit and Windsor, Ontario to work together as partners to aggressively recruit firms that want to expand operations in the U.S., but who are restrained by our immigration caps on skilled international workers. Detroit-Windsor can become the leading “nearshoring” base for the new economy. Global firms can locate their skilled foreign labor in Windsor, while bringing their American workers to metro Detroit. In addition to our regional proximity (which literally allows workers to meet face-to-face with their peers in another country in 30 minutes or less), southeast Michigan and southwest Ontario possess a bi-national business acumen developed over years of cooperative work on automotive manufacturing and other industries.