Near-shoring 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, have faced 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.
A more strategic plan for southeast Michigan would be to partner with our friends in Windsor 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. By developing appropriate marketing materials, attending global IT conferences (and those of other industries particularly affected by the H-1B cap), and developing other strategies, Detroit-Windsor can become the leading “near-shoring” 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. For a description of the joint assets of the region, click to download the Two Cities, One Region brochure.
Since the release of the Global Detroit report in 2010, this initiative has advanced. Global Detroit retained a consulting firm to research the potential for this concept to be successful in Detroit, and to identify the sectors and businesses most likely to take advantage of this opportunity. Click here to view Global Detroit’ s 2013 report on Detroit-Windsor Near-Shoring.