There is a large immigrant presence in certain parts of the country. Undoubtedly, most Americans consider the Southwest portion of the U.S. to be home for many Mexican and other Spanish speaking immigrants. However, there are more immigrants living in working in various parts of the country that most people probably realize.
A recent report, released by the Immigration Policy Center, has shed light on how some Midwest cities are encouraging immigrant entrepreneurs. The article focuses its efforts on Detroit, St. Louis, and various rural communities in Iowa.
Detroit: It's no secret that Detroit is going through some tough times. Due to its circumstances, it seems that Detroit may be open to less-traditional methods in order to revitalize the city. One way city leaders are doing this is by taking a good look at immigration. A report referred to as “Global Detroit” found that immigrants have a direct impact on the regional economy. Further, Global Detroit outlined initiatives that would “help revitalize southeast Michigan's economy.”
Global Detroit was only released in 2010, but the city has already seen positive results. In its early stages, efforts began in southeast Michigan that worked to make the region “more welcoming to immigrants and to capitalize on the economic opportunities the region's international population brings.” Within two years, the city raised more than $4 million to be put towards its planned initiatives.
St. Louis: St. Louis is not immune to some of the problems also facing Detroit. Specifically, the city has experienced a “demographic dilemma” over the past few years. City leaders in St. Louis commissioned studies in order to evaluate the true impact immigration has on the city's economy. The results were mixed. St. Louis and the surrounding areas have a fairly small immigrant population when you compare it with other cities that have similar populations. In addition, the report found that immigrants are 60% more likely to be entrepreneurs in any given region, but the currently small number of immigrants in the area generally discourages other immigrants from moving to St. Louis.
The city took note of these findings and wanted to make a change. In June of last year, the St. Louis Mosaic Project was founded with the hopes that it would help make St. Louis “the country's fastest-growing metro area for immigrants by 2020.” The project's plans include the promotion of regional prosperity by means of immigration as well as innovation.
Rural Iowa: While the other two communities mentioned in this report are highly populated metros, the third location researched is that of rural Iowa. This is just another example of how immigration impacts all parts of the country, not just big cities.
There has been a decline in populations in small towns throughout the country. More people are heading to bigger cities in hopes of better opportunities. However, studies show that immigrants can help to push back against this downturn. According to research offered by the Department of Sociology-Extension and Outreach at Iowa State University, “immigrant-established businesses in rural Iowa towns include retail stores, auto repair shops, labor-contracting businesses, speciality farms, translation services, and small-scale manufacturing.”
Often, the key to immigrant success in these smaller towns is the fact that the majority of immigrants do not need to rely on loans and other financial assistance from banks in order to start their endeavors. Instead, they rely on family and friends.
Do you have thoughts on this study? Have you noticed other cities that have gone through similar efforts?