Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Pittsburgh Foreign-Born Entrepreneurship

Among its "Midwestern" cohort, Pittsburgh has a very small foreign-born population. Nationally, the numbers look almost infinitesimal. Pittsburgh does do a good job of attracting educated immigrants, but the region lacks the critical mass necessary to spur the expected entrepreneurial activity (thanks to The Urbanophile for passing along the reference to the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago blog post):

Our reading of the same [data source above] shows that entrepreneurship of the foreign born in the region’s metropolitan areas lies close to national averages. This is true of both college-educated foreign born and overall foreign born. Again, these tendencies vary across metropolitan areas.

However, the overall paucity of foreign born in the region tends to depress their importance as entrepreneurs. As the chart below suggests, again only Chicago manages to climb above the national average in this regard. The Detroit metropolitan area comes in a respectable second place.

The quality of immigration to Pittsburgh is excellent. However, the Chicago Fed's analysis suggests that the quantity of foreign-born moving to the area is also important for economic development. At least in the short-term, I highly doubt that Pittsburgh could generate the necessary numbers to spur the kind of foreign-born entrepreneurial activity found in Chicago.

The fact remains that Pittsburgh's immigrant population is under-represented in the local entrepreneurial scene. If they don't already, incubators should specifically target foreign-born talent for startup opportunities. I'd bet that parochial tendencies are marginalizing outsider ambition. Given that Pittsburgh struggles to foster a healthy flow of immigrants to the city, this insular nature is distressing.

1 comment:

Dave said...

This is a great topic, and something that most midwest cities need to focus on. Specifically cities should consider recruiting immigrants at an early age (pre-college) to work programs as my experience shows that this can get them into our universities and then stay in our cities.