Monday, October 27, 2008

Great Lakes Region Coalition: Immigration Policy

Again, I thank Richard Herman for keeping me in the Rust Belt talent strategy loop. Joe Roman, president and CEO of the Greater Cleveland Partnership, lays out the rationale for cooperation on the front of immigration policy reform:

To add clout, we aligned our efforts with those of the Great Lakes Region Coalition. The coalition is composed of more than 30 metropolitan chambers of commerce - including the GCP - in the 12 Great Lakes states.

Our agenda includes a comprehensive immigration policy, shaped by the GCP with input from community partners. We need this policy to help our region attract skilled workers. The agenda also includes development priorities determined by our members and public-sector partners and endorsed by our board of directors. And it addresses the clean air and clean water challenges confronting metro areas in the region.

Countries such as Canada are aggressively courting global talent pools. The irony is that the expected problem is a labor shortage, which could grow more acute even as the unemployment numbers increase. Engineering immigration is a quicker fix than retooling education. Mr. Roman's point is that Rust Belt swing states should leverage their electoral value for economic gain with immigration policy reform being one of the instruments for Rust Belt revitalization.

A pro-immigration stance is difficult to take during an economic downturn. Thus, we need to work together to push the right legislation through. Getting other Rust Belt residents on board will be the primary challenge. Bloggers could play a vital role in energizing the constituency.

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