Sunday, April 27, 2008

Rust Belt Immigration Policy Update

From Richard Herman:

More on Caught in the Middle--America's Heartland in the Age of Globalism" by Richard Longworth (fellow at Chicago Council on Global Affairs, former Pulitzer-nominated writer at Chicago Tribune).

It is expected that Longworth will soon speak in Cleveland on his new book.

Longworth has this to say about the new immigrants to Chicago, and the failure of Cleveland to attract new immigrants:

"No less than 22 percent of the city's (Chicago's) population is foreign-born...these people saved the city. Thirty years ago Chicago was a decaying has-been of a city that was bleeding people and jobs. Today it is booming, and the immigrants --- not just Latino but Asian, African, Arab --- are a big part of that boom. Put simply, Chicago's veins pulse with new blood.

Cleveland, on the other hand, has a bigger immigrant problem. It doesn't have any. At one point, Cleveland was 50 percent foreign-born -- Italians, Germans, Slovaks, Poles. Today, immigrants account for barely 4 percent of the city's shrinking population. Population has been falling for years. Cleveland is about half as big as it was after WW II. Today it is an empty, dull place, lacking new blood, and hence, lacking life. "We even have a hard time attracting illegal immigrants," Ronn Richard, president of The Cleveland Foundation, told me. ...

For all the public controversy over immigrants, few urban experts dispute their contributions. They not only bring jobs and skills. They bring global viewpoints, vital contacts with other nations, ethnic restaurants and neighborhood festivals, new art and different music. They make cities richer and more fun...

The Midwest was first settled by restless and hungry foreigners. These immigrants built the Midwest. In the century and a half since then, the region lost this restlessness and hunger --- and must recapture it. For all the stresses they cause, the Midwest simply needs as many immigrants as it can get. ...

Months of travel and study through the towns and cities of the Midwest have made up my mind. The Midwest needs all the immigrants it can get.......Wherever they have gone in the Midwest, immigrants have enriched their new homes--- occasionally, even saved them from a slow death...

Most debate over immigration reform isn't rooted in economics at all....

In the second decade of its revival, Chicago has become what much of the rest of the Midwest wants to be. This is because, in much of the Midwest, reinvention has barely begun...

Cleveland, by contrast, now ranks officially as the poorest big city in the U.S., and may stay that way. According to a Brookings Institution report, its poverty rate is no less than 32.4 percent, even worse than that in Detroit, St. Louis, Dayton, Youngstown or the other symbols of Rustbelt collapse.

But when I went to Cleveland, I found not alarm but complacency. In a city that is being destroyed by global forces--- its industry and best young people are fleeing and are not being replaced --- I found almost nobody willing to actually talk about globalization or global challenges. In a city crying for answers, no one even asks the questions.

This is strange. A century ago, Cleveland was one of the three or four richest cities in America, the home of Rockefellers, an industrial powerhouse. Now its median household income of $26,000 per year lags behind that in more vibrant Midwestern cities such as Indianapolis ($42,000) or Chicago ($39,000). Euclid Avenue once ranked with Fifth Avenue in New York as the most elegant street in the country: when the Rockefellers and the Hannas lived there, it was known as Millionaire's Row. Cleveland used to be the fifth biggest American city; now its thirty-ninth... From a distance, you can see how grand it used to be. But it's an eerie, echoing space now, all past no future, splendid buildings with no one in them, noble streets faced by locked doors and cracked windows....

What happened? "We stopped innovating," Ronn Richard, the president of The President of the Cleveland Foundation told me. "We missed the IT revolution. We missed it because we were so fat, dumb, and happy with our prowess in heavy manufacturing." Back in the 1980s, the Rand Corporation looked at Cleveland, saw it was falling behind, noted that manufacturing employment was going down, and suggested a switch from industry to services. Twenty-five years later, the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland reported that nothing had changed.....

In all my travels through the Midwest, Cleveland was the only place, big or small, that seemed heedless of the global challenge. Only 4 percent of its population is foreign-born, in an era that demands new blood; the city's government isn't sure it wants more (see One of its leading economists told me, "You can't kill manufacturing--that's stupid," but manufacturing is fleeing and cities need new ways to support themselves. In an era of global connectivity, only one nonstop flight per day, to England, links Cleveland to the world. The first-rate Cleveland Clinic is expanding, but every Midwestern city is building up its health industry; few actually count on it to carry the city's economy.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer ran an excellent series, "The Quiet Crisis," on the declining economy; one editor told me that many of the articles excited reader interest, but the two on globalization and immigration "just landed with a thud."...

Midwestern cities --- indeed most American cities--- still have to export to live, but they don't make things as much these days. Instead, the successful ones export service and ideas....But the creative class are citizens of the postindustrial age, and most Midwestern cities still suffer an industrial hangover. These are "materialist places," assembly-line cities, where a century of good, steady jobs leeched out the itch to be new or different. These cities say they want to be creative, Florida says, "but continue to pour resources into recruiting call centers, underwriting big-box retailers, subsidizing downtown malls, and squandering precious taxpayer dollars on extravagant stadium complexes."

All this describes St. Louis, Cleveland or Detroit. These are places that still compete for factories.

Creative cities compete for people."


I encourage you to read this important book.

Since the research of this book was collected, more and more Northeast Ohio foundations, corporate, civic, and minority community leaders are coming out to support the attraction & welcoming of immigrant talent.

The following are noteworthy:

Fund for Our Economic Future---Dashboard Study, conducted by Federal Reserve Bank, Cleveland

Greater Cleveland Partnership --- strategic plan 2008-2011

Cuyahoga County Commissioners' Blue Ribbon Economic Development Plan

City of Cleveland: Plan 2020

City of Akron: Plan 2025

Forest City: Immigrants--the Future of Cleveland

Local African American leaders who are supportive of building intercultural alliances for growth include Peter Lawson Jones, Connie Atkins (CAAO), Mansfield Frazier, Stan Miller, Glen Shumate, etc.

Attached please find info from January's networking event, "Immigrant & Minority Entrepreneur Networking Event' featuring Vivek Wadhwa, nation's expert on immigrant tech entrepreneurship. As you can see, the event was was sponsored by many diverse orgs, Call & Post, Consortium of African American Organizations, Cleveland Cavaliers (owner Dan Gilbert contacted me saying he loved the concept--- the Cavs are a microcosm of what we are are
working towards), Kauffman Foundation, Cleveland Foundation, Gar Foundation, Forest City, On Leong Chinese Merchants, Hispanic Roundtable, Jumpstart, Bioenterpise, Asia Services in Action, Hispanic Business Association, Case, UA, CSU, City Club,County Commissioners, etc.

Nearly 200 people showed up---- of all color and backgrounds. We had a large representation from the African American community ----

As a result of that event, CAAO & Immigrant/Minority Business Alliance formed a joint venture, applying for federal grant monies from DOJ to educate local employers and community on the anti-discrimination provisions of the Immigration & Nationality Act.

This intercultural collaboration is the future of our city.

Check out the video from Drew Carey---- one of Cleveland's most famous son's, talking about immigrants

It will be interesting to see how this issue plays out in Detroit.

John Austin, VP of State Board of Education in Michigan, Director of Great Lakes Economic Initiative at Brookings, and newly appointed CEO of New Economy Initiative ($100 million fund for local economic development), is very big on creating a Rustbelt strategy to attract & welcome immigrant talent.

(he recently convened most of the Rustbelt city chambers of commerce execs and asked them what are the top five priorities for the Rustbelt's economic development: talented/entrepreneurial immigrant influx was #4).

Three target areas for New Economy Initiative in Detroit:

1. Prepare, attract and retain skilled workers in southeast Michigan (Talent)

2. Encourage innovation and entrepreneurship in new and existing enterprises in the region (Innovation)

3. Change the region's culture regarding learning, work, and innovation (Culture Change).

To compete with New Economy cities, we need talent. Now. According to "Caught in the Middle," only 5% of people in Cleveland and only 4% in Detroit have advanced degrees in Seattle, it's more than 20%.

I encourage all who are interested in these topics to contact the Cleveland Council on World Affairs. CCWA is the center of gravity in Cleveland/Akron in planning/educating on harnessing globalization for growth.

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