Gov. Rick Snyder said this morning that the key to reigniting Detroit’s long-stalled economy is luring 50,000 skilled immigrants to the city over the next five years.
Snyder’s initiative urges the federal government to add 50,000 employment-based visas for workers “with advanced academic degrees or those with the exceptional ability in the sciences, arts or business.” To be eligible, the workers must live in Detroit.
The plan, supported by Mayor Mike Duggan, is a stark departure from former Mayor Dave Bing’s position on immigration. Bing contended there were not enough jobs for local people, let alone an influx of immigrants.
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“We want the world to know that Detroit is open for business,” Snyder said. “Legal immigration helped to build this great city and is just as critical to its comeback. Immigrants create jobs and Detroit is a great value opportunity in terms of business costs and overall quality of life. The city has so much to offer anyone willing to contribute to its future. Of course, Michigan has always been a welcoming state to those wishing to call it home. We’re excited about the potential that this initiative holds for Detroit’s turnaround, and look forward to working with our federal partners to make it happen.”
Snyder said immigration is a “proven driver of job creation and economic growth,” noting that more than a quarter of all small businesses were started by immigrants in 2011. Many of those businesses are high-tech firms that pay well, the governor said.
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Duggan showed his support.
“In order for Detroit to grow again, we need highly trained workers to move in, open businesses and raise their families,” Duggan said. “The governor’s plan opens the door for more skilled immigrants to thrive in Detroit’s fertile ground for economic innovation. They will create jobs and employ Detroiters.”
Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.