Immigration and Michigan’s economy

Added July 20th, 2011 by Anika Fassia | Email This Entry Email This Entry
Anika Fassia

The positive economic impact of welcoming immigrants is echoing across the state. As a daughter of immigrant parents, I feel grateful that our governor is publicly taking a stance against any Arizona-type immigration law in Michigan and speaking on behalf of initiatives that hone in on the importance of rolling out the welcome mat.

Wayne State University hosted, and New Michigan Media sponsored, the first statewide summit on immigration and the economy called Immigration and Michigan’s Future Economy. The summit highlighted data from the Global Detroit Study, documenting the impact of foreign-born residents on the state’s economy. The summit featured New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder among many other speakers.

The take-home messages on the importance of immigrants on Michigan’s economy include:

  • Immigrants are responsible for 33 percent of all high-tech startups, making Michigan third among all states in producing new high-tech business opportunities.
  • In 2009, the purchasing power of Michigan Asians and Latinos combined, totaled $17.5 billion, an increase of over 300 percent by each population since 1990.
  • Immigrants are three times more likely to start a business in Michigan than a native-born resident.
  • During the 2008-2009 year, foreign students contributed $592 million to the local economy in tuition, fees and living expenses.

However, to truly roll out the welcome mat it requires more than taking a stance against bad immigration policy and noting how immigrants with advanced degrees will create jobs and invest capital. The administration also needs to focus on positive family policies for all who already live in Michigan, both native and foreign-born. By focusing on family-friendly policies, the state could cultivate an environment of economic growth by supporting residents who in return can better support their local economy. All foreign-born residents in Michigan contribute to the local economy by paying taxes, buying homes and starting businesses.

Rolling out the welcome mat means creating an environment that welcomes and supports all of our residents in Michigan, enabling them to contribute back to the economy and their communities. Let’s take it a step further by not only publicly welcoming everyone, but cultivating an environment that helps them succeed.

— Anika Fassia

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