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Often, when a city is looking to revitalize its economic health, much of the effort and taxpayer money will go into recruiting businesses. But what about efforts put in to recruiting immigrants? That may seem like an unusual strategy, but as Mitchell Schnurman writes on dallasnews.com, it’s one that more and more cities are embracing.
In Schnurman’s article, “Detroit, St. Louis and Other Rust Belt Cities Look to Immigrants to Revive Their Economies,” he explains how the aforementioned cities, along with other metro areas in the Great Lakes region looking to fuel their economic recovery after 2008, studied the impact of immigrants and started programs designed to help mentor and support immigrants in starting new businesses. Schnurman references a report by the New American Economy that 20 programs have been designed to “welcome, retain, and integrate immigrants to spur urban revival and economic growth.” These programs not only offer a welcoming hand to immigrant entrepreneurs, but they also pull resources from the community to set up networking opportunities, help with business set up and finding work with employers who may be looking to hire immigrants.
In our town, for example, the St. Louis Mosaic Project was started in 2012, connecting businesses and international workers and supporting immigrant entrepreneurs. To invest fully within the community, Mosaic has partnerships with K-12 schools as well as universities. It’s also integral to the region’s economic development efforts.
All over the Midwest and throughout the Rust Belt, cities are embracing the immigrants in their community to help revitalize their economy after the Great Recession, a strategy that may seem counter-intuitive, even controversial, but one that is beginning to pay dividends.