Friday, February 08, 2008

Blog Release: Rust Belt Immigration Project

Brookings/Great Lakes Chamber Meeting Next Week: Something to Look For ----Upcoming H1B Lottery & Rustbelt Solution -- High Skill Immigration Zone


An interesting summit is being held next week in Detroit.

As set forth in Detroit Crain's:

"The Detroit Regional Chamber is hosting leaders of its counterpart chambers of commerce in at least 16 other cities for a two-day conference on community partnerships Feb. 11-12 at The Henry Ford.

That gathering, with support from the Washington-based nonprofit Brookings Institution, includes chamber representatives from Chicago; Toledo; Grand Rapids; Pittsburgh; Cleveland; Minneapolis; Kalamazoo; Cincinnati; Indianapolis; Columbus, Ohio; Buffalo; Erie, Pa.; Des Moines; Rockford, Ill.; Akron; and Kitchener, Ontario.

Conference goals include finding ways for the Midwest to stay competitive in a global economy and identifying common economic issues the region can raise for presidential contenders and Congress — one reason the conference is timed shortly after the Super Tuesday primaries, Ed Wolking Jr., senior vice president of the Chamber, said."

In anticipation of next week's meeting of Rustbelt Chambers of Commerce, I hope you might find the following information useful.


I'm writing to you from Cleveland, as you know one of the most economically distressed big cities in the U.S. and a national leader of mortgage foreclosures, urban depopulation and crime.

It wasn't always this way.

In the early 20th Century, Cleveland and surrounding Rustbelt Cities were an industrial "Silicon Valley," a world leader in patent generation, manufacturing innovation, and industrial genius. It was a land of untold wealth and prosperity.

Today, both at the federal and local level, the response to the plight of the Rustbelt seems to be merely "management of decline" rather than innovative policy for growth.

How can Cleveland, and other post-industrial cities in the Rustbelt with incredible infrastructure but little population or innovation left, recapture its glory?

Part of the answer: attract industry-creating, job-creating high-skill immigrants who are leading the way in high tech innovation.

While ramping up the education/innovation quotient of the native population is critical, cities like Cleveland, Detroit, Pittsburgh, etc., can not wait until a new generation of knowledge workers are produced at home.

Like the NBA or Major League Baseball, the U.S. and its suffering economies should not be shy about recruiting the world's best talent to build the most competitive teams. Now.

Here is just one example of U.S. brain-dead policy on immigration.

The H1B lottery will start on April 1, 2008. Last year, all regular 65,000 H1b visas (primarily used by IT and other professional workers) were taken on April 1st, as the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Service received over 115,000 applications on the first day of the lottery.

Is this any way to run a knowledge-based economy? Is this any way to attract the world's best and brightest?

Some in the Rustbelt see an opportunity to inject sanity into the high-skill immigration debate, AND create special opportunities to revitalize struggling, old, depopulating industrial regions.

In terms of leveraging existing and proposed immigration law relating to foreign direct investment and high tech talent, I thought you might be interested in the following as a potential driver for Rustbelt revival:

We have been receiving interesting feedback from Michael Moritz (Billionaire prinicpal of Sequoia Capital, early funder of Google, Yahoo, Paypal), John Austin (Brookings), Richard Vedder (noted economist at Ohio University, Fellow at American Enteprise Institute), the Mayor of Toledo, the Chambers of Commerce in Columbus and Youngstown, Spark in Ann Arbor, Team Northeast Ohio, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Compete America, Cleveland area foundations, Ohio Governor Stickland's office, Cisco, Oracle, Infosys, Joel Kotkin, Ellen Gallagher (Special Counsel, U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Service), Vivek Wadhwa (Harvard/Businessweek), BioEnterprise, Audrey Singer (Brookings) and others.

I look forward to any feedback you may wish to share or questions you may have.

Thank you.

Richard Herman
Richard T. Herman & Associates, LLC
Attorneys at Law
815 Superior Ave, Suite 1910
Cleveland, Ohio 44114
216-696-0104 fax

1 comment:

N&E5 said...

I wish Congress would ease some of the overly complex requirements for the EB5 pilot program. It has the ability to spur large investments, but currently it is just not a practical solution.

While they have the targeted unemployment areas, I would link the visa to renaissance zones. If we could have Detroit, Pittsburgh, Cleveland create a mid-West hub of investments, it could create real change. Tie them with the universities as well.

Great article.