Entrepreneurship and Innovation Newsletter – September 2014

Latest Research

New report highlights local welcoming and immigrant integration initiatives across the Midwest. The Chicago Council on Global Affairs and the American Immigration Council recently co-produced a new reportReimaging the Midwest: Immigration Initiatives and the Capacity of Local Leadership. The report explores many of the local initiatives across the Midwest that are encouraging new growth, building community and harnessing the contributions of immigrants. “The level of action here in the Midwest is indicative of a remarkable shift in rhetoric from previous years,” Juliana Kerr, a co-author of the paper and director of The Chicago Council’s work on immigrationsaid. Kerr, along with co-author Paul McDaniel from the American Immigration Council, appeared on Chicago Public Radio to discuss the topic. Both organizations also co-hosted a twitter chat about the report to facilitate a conversation with researchers and practitioners.

Research explores the metropolitan geography of foreign students and their contributions in the U.S. The Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program recently released a new reportThe Geography of Foreign Students in the United States: Origins and Destinations. International students enrich U.S. colleges and universities, the report observes, but “only recently, however, have local leaders begun to appreciate that students from fast-growing foreign economies can also be important anchors in building global connections between their hometowns abroad and their U.S. metropolitan destinations,” said Neil Ruiz, author of the report.

Cities and regions can take advantage of migration’s local dividends. new series from the Migration Policy Institute’s Transatlantic Council on Migration, Cities and Regions: Reaping Migration’s Local Dividends,examines “place-based immigration and entrepreneurship policies, city attractiveness, social cohesion, and means to build inclusive cities.” As Demetrios Papademetriou of the Migration Policy Institute (MPI) explains, immigration can be an economic windfall for communities through more jobs and growth. But these benefits are not automatic nor are they evenly accrued. Policymakers at all levels have the opportunity to work together to help cities and regions get more out of immigration.

Cities find creative ways for civic immigrant integration. new report about civic integration from the Migration Policy Institute (MPI), Immigrant Civic Integration and Service Access Initiatives: City-Sized Solutions for City-Sized Needs describes integration initiatives in New York City; Seattle; San Francisco; Littleton, Colorado; and Cupertino, California. These particular initiatives are drawn from past applicants for the E Pluribus Unum Prizes, a program of MPI’s National Center on Immigrant Integration Policy.

Citizenship is a wise investment for cities. new studyCitizenship: A Wise Investment for Cities, illustrates how citizenship is a good investment for cities. The report estimates that immigrants’ earnings would increase 8 to 11 percent nationally after naturalization, creating beneficial ripple effects in the wider economy. “American mayors are realizing that they can and should act now to encourage naturalization and immigrant integration,” said Manuel Pastor of USC. The report’s release coincided with the launch of Cities for Citizenship, a national initiative chaired by the Mayors of New York City, Chicago, and Los Angeles.

Investing in English language learning can help boost local economies. The Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program recently published a new reportInvesting in English Skills: The Limited English Proficient Workforce in U.S. Metropolitan Areas. As the report notes, investing in skills, including English proficiency, “is critical to building and maintaining a skilled workforce.” Jill Wilson, the report’s author and senior research analyst at Brookings, explained that improving English skills can be a gateway to economic opportunities for immigrant workers, but access to adult English instruction is limited due to a lack of resources.

New report offers recommendations to attract and retain new Americans in Baltimore. Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake recently announced recommendations from Baltimore’s New Americans Task Force, in partnership with the Abell Foundation. The report, The Role of Immigrants in Growing Baltimore: Recommendations to Retain and Attract New Americans, offers 32 recommendations to “further strengthen Baltimore as a place of welcome, economic opportunity, and inclusion,” according to a September 17 press releasefrom the Mayor’s office. Following the announcement, a September 18 editorial in the Baltimore Sun noted that most recommendations will be of benefit to all Baltimoreans and the city as a whole.

New American investors make a difference in the U.S. economy. new report from the American Immigration Council, The U.S. Immigrant Investor Program: New American Investors Making a Difference in the Economy, by Matthew Kolodziej, provides an overview of the EB-5 visa program. As the report observes, the program’s growth in popularity as an investment tool has gone up during the most recent economic crisis. As such, the EB-5 Investor Program illustrates how immigration law can be used to directly stimulate economic growth and development.

IMPRINT highlights the latest numbers about college educated immigrants in the U.S. recent piece from IMPRINT describes new analysis from the American Institute of Economic Research exploring the latest data about college educated immigrants in the U.S. The analysis provides a national picture of the skilled immigrant population, both US-trained and foreign-trained, using 2010 data from the National Survey of College Graduates.

News Updates

National Welcoming Week events nationwide. For National Welcoming Week (September 13 to 21), groups across the country highlighted the work they’re doing to cultivate an environment of welcome in their cities. Over 100 organizations across the country hosted over 160 events in 27 states. National Welcoming Week is a series of nationwide events designed to “honor immigrant contributions and build bridges among diverse local residents.”  “The Era of Welcoming has already begun,” said Welcoming America Executive Director David Lubell. “What we are seeing across the country is a groundswell of communities recognizing that creating an environment where everyone can contribute—no matter what they look like or where they were born—is the foundation of American competitiveness and economic vitality.” As Welcoming America observes, “communities small and large, rural and urban, are moving full steam ahead to welcome immigrants and expand prosperity.”

Detroit and East Lansing become Welcoming Cities. Recently, the Detroit City Council unanimously passed a resolution for Detroit to become a “welcoming city,” as a September 23 post on Immigration Impact describes. “The designation,” part of the Welcoming Cities and Counties initiative, Global Detroit notes, “recognizes places that support locally-driven efforts to create more welcoming, immigrant-friendly environments that maximize opportunities for economic growth and cultural vitality.” Another Michigan city, East Lansing, also recently became a “welcoming city.”

Nashville launches Mayor’s Office of New Americans. On September 22, Nashville Mayor Karl Dean officially launched the Mayor’s Office of New Americans. The city office is tasked with “involving immigrants in local government, expanding economic and educational opportunities and creating partnerships between Metro and community organizations,” according to a September 22 article in The Tennessean. “Nashville is a vibrant community that is home to people from all over the world, and embracing our growing diversity only makes our city stronger,” Mayor Dean said. “When we engage and empower our newest residents, we make our city stronger as a whole,” Shanna Hughey, director of the Mayor’s Office of New Americans, said.

Atlanta announces plans to implement welcoming strategies. Mayor Kasim Reed and the Welcoming Atlanta Working Group recently announced that the City of Atlanta will create an office of multicultural affairs and will be implementing 20 strategies to “foster a welcoming environment for all individuals regardless of race, ethnicity, or place of origin,” according to a September 17 press release from the Mayor’s Office. The 20 recommendationsfocus on community engagement, developing and harnessing talent, and public safety. “As Atlanta positions itself to be a global leader, attracting and retaining talent is imperative,” Mayor Reed said. “The Welcoming Atlanta initiative…will not only create an environment that is welcoming to new arrivals, but a stronger community for all Atlantans.”

An entrepreneur who risked it all. September 8 post on FWD.us spotlights Mike Galarza, founder and CEO of Entryless. Galarza, originally from Mexico, discusses his company, his tumultuous journey through the U.S. immigration system, and the biggest challenges he faced when trying to come to the U.S. and start a company. “As an entrepreneur, I was already challenged with creating a company…but going through the immigration process proved to be an even greater challenge,” Galarza noted. He also noted that “the immigration process for foreign-born founders needs to be accelerated properly if the US wants to remain at the top.”

For foreign tech entrepreneurs, getting a visa to work in the U.S. is a struggle. September 14 piece in The Guardian highlights some of the difficulties immigrant entrepreneurs face when trying to remain in the U.S. due to the outdated immigration visa system. Iñaki Berenguer, a New York City-based tech entrepreneur originally from Spain, said “if you want to make it big, you have to come to the US.” But he notes that “talented entrepreneurs will eventually move elsewhere if the current US visa system is not overhauled.” As the article states, “an innovative solution…to help immigrant entrepreneurs is what’s known as a startup visa.” A startup visa would “fill a current visa void for those foreigners, often graduates of US universities, who want to remain in the country and start a business.”