Finally, a city that admits it wants more immigrants–

Cleveland Ohio has many charms, chief among this is the recognition that their immigrants are great for their economy.  It may be that years of being a post-industrial city have something to do with this.  It’s not as if the city does not have a history of troubled race relations.  Whatever the reason, it’s a relief to see folks being reasonable.

Cleveland attracts the world’s best, just not enough of them

By Robert L. Smith, The Plain Dealer

November 30, 2009, 12:01AM

CLEVELAND, Ohio — The region’s immigrant community, small in size, wields a mighty impact, according to a new national study.

Immigrants are responsible for about 7 percent of the Greater Cleveland economy, though they make up only 6 percent of the labor force, creating one of the few metro areas in America where immigrants contribute more to the economy than native-born workers. The region’s immigrants are more likely than native-born residents to be working, are far more likely to start businesses and on average earn higher salaries.

Those details come from “Immigrants and the Economy: Contributions of Immigrant Workers to the Country’s 25 Largest Metropolitan Areas,” which is being released today by the Fiscal Policy Institute of New York through Policy Matters Ohio.

Researchers gauged the economic role of immigrants in the nation’s 25 largest metropolitan areas by examining their earning power and their participation in the labor force. They found that, in most of urban America, immigrants contributed to the local economy in close proportion to their share of the population.

Only in metro Cleveland and Cincinnati did immigrants exhibit an “outsized economic impact,” according to the study.

That’s because metro Cleveland, like metro Cincinnati, tends to draw a select few.
Ohio’s largest cities, hobbled by stagnant economies, are not attracting low-skilled immigrants in sizable numbers, researchers found. The cities do, however, lure immigrants sought by hospitals and research labs and engineering firms.

Thus do Northeast Ohio immigrants outshine immigrants elsewhere and outshine the locals.
“They’re a relatively small community,” said David Dyssegaard Kallick, a senior fellow at the Fiscal Policy Institute. “I think it’s fair to say they’re making an outsized contribution.”
That insight could help to shape economic development strategies.

“We’ve got to really recognize what immigration means,” said Piet van Lier, a senior researcher at Policy Matters Ohio.

The perception of immigrants as low-wage job takers is largely inaccurate, especially in Greater Cleveland, van Lier notes. The study paints a portrait of highly skilled workers who create jobs or bring rare and needed skills to Greater Cleveland, which the researchers define as Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, Lorain and Medina counties, a geographical grouping that excludes Akron and Summit County.
Local immigrants are 6 percent of the local labor force but make up 15 percent of the people in professional specialties.

While the region draws talent, it is not drawing enough, the study indicates. Cities with faster immigrant growth are faring much better in the new economy.

“I think that you can clearly see that economic growth and immigrant growth go hand in hand,” Kallick said. “When immigrants do come, they do expand the labor force and fuel that future growth. There is a symbiotic relationship between immigration and growth.”

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One thought on “Finally, a city that admits it wants more immigrants–

  1. Querida Gringa: Great story, will reference it in the report I'm writing. The report is on why and how US cities, counties, and states have adopted and implemented immigrant friendly policies and programs. I also interested in the stages and strategies that activists have used to prod their cities into adopting those immigrant positive city policies and programs. We, Latinos and allies in New Orleans, are exploring means to win pro-immigrant municipal policies and programs here.

    The items below came from a speaker at a local strategy meeting held two years ago. Do these categories below sound familiar to you? I'd appreciate any relevant ideas, observations, contacts you may have concerning this. I am particularly interested in any sources regarding pro immigrant local policies in Southern and Midwestern cities where there have been significant recent increases in the immigrant population.

    “· Santa Rosa ordinance: tolerance ordinance (was anti-tolerance because tried to change Spanish street names to English but morphed); small campaign but took a lot of time because of prevailing anti-immigrant sentiment; who’s in office matters
    · San Francisco: Sanctuary city; have welcoming practices – (what we want New Orleans to look like 20 years from now)
    · San Jose: integration model; are language translations at city agencies but also integration practices; have multi-lingual and multi-cultural services
    · Los Angeles and Oakland: have mainstreamed all new comers; Immersion city; address immigration legislation and issues every week because their issues are on the table all the time, along with other city issues; need leaders of color/immigrant communities to make stuff happen. “

    I have done recent interviews with folks in SF and San Jose, and the situation has been very dynamic and the above descriptions are not necessarily that reflective of what is going on right now.

    If its ok w/ you, Gringa, I am appealing to you and your readers to share any leads on my topic, I would really appreciate it.

    Thanks,
    J.

    jcruz@puentesno.org

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