Will Snyder’s Proposed Immigration Reforms Boost Entrepreneurship?

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that established a guest worker program and created programs to integrate migrant workers into the state through visas and other initiatives. Utah’s governor quickly signed the legislation. But under federal law, the state doesn’t have the authority to implement the reforms. Just last month, Utah officials announced the state was delaying the legislation’s implementation until 2015 in order to give the federal government time to act.

So what could Michigan do? Tobocman believes that Snyder has already informally approached the Obama administration to move MSHDA’s EB-5 center application forward quickly. In the meantime, there are still nine existing EB-5 centers not affiliated with the state that could be utilized. Tobocman says he’s also had meetings with another rust belt city (he declined to specify which one) about pursuing immigration incentives in partnership with Detroit, whether through an EB-5 center or a formal request for executive approval of EB-2 visas.

Given the limited state authority, the ideal solution is making immigration reform at the federal level a priority, suggests Ganesan. “What’s missing is a lack of will,” he says. “We need to communicate to the American people the key differences between legal and illegal immigrants. Entrepreneurship and immigration are the pillars that took this country to where it is. Why wouldn’t we take this surgical strike to fix immigration?”

Yet whatever the state manages to do can help, he adds. The United States’ growth has traditionally been fueled by immigrant entrepreneurs, he points out. So it makes perfect sense to use that strategy in Detroit. “The native population [of Michigan] might not have the appetite for taking that risk [in Detroit], but immigrants do,” he says. “They don’t know what they don’t know, so they’re willing to jump into it.”

How exactly will Michigan try to move forward on the vision laid out in Gov. Snyder’s State of the State Address? It’s unclear. We repeatedly contacted Snyder’s office to ask how he will convince the federal government to act on his proposals, but our calls weren’t returned.

However, Snyder did just sign an executive order a few weeks ago to open a state Office for New Americans, headed by a Grand Rapids entrepreneur named Bing Goei. As Michigan continues to look for ways to bolster its economy and promote cities like Detroit as a destination for tech-minded entrepreneurs, it’s clear Snyder intends to keep legal immigration a key part of the discussion.

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Sarah Schmid Stevenson is the editor of Xconomy Detroit/Ann Arbor. You can reach her at 313-570-9823 or sschmid@xconomy.com. Follow @XconomyDET_AA

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One response to “Will Snyder’s Proposed Immigration Reforms Boost Entrepreneurship?”

  1. Bob WilcoxAll Hat, No Cattle says:

    So the plan is to bring 50,000 immigrants to the US, because of course immigrants who are wealthy and want a visa are optimal entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs already in the US can’t be enticed to Detroit? EB-5 and EB-2 have strong track records building economies in other cities? Swinging befuddled ideas around like a dead cat is not quite the same thing as good government, nor is it good economics.

    Detroit’s strengths are its cost of living, location, and youthful professionals. Its weaknesses are brand, infrastructure, debt-burden, education level, and poverty level. Bankruptcy court is addressing debt burden, and good state government could address infrastructure with eminent domain law, and address educational attainment with money. Poverty and brand can only be reversed with economic growth.

    A state government with ideas could grasp the burgeoning entrepreneurial energy apparent on the streets, feed that native excitement with infrastructure and education, and attract immigrant dollars and brains from all over the US. The governor’s idea is predicated on ignoring the strengths and weaknesses of Detroit, and hoping that a magic painless cure will arise from “somewhere else”.