Global Midwest - Immigration & Innovation

TiECon Midwest Conference 2010
Global Midwest:
Immigration & Innovation as Drivers
Dearborn, Michigan October 28, 2010

The Detroit chapter of TiE (Talent, Ideas, Enterprise) presented a discussion on Global Midwest: Immigration & Innovation as Drivers at TiECon Midwest 2010, Michigan’s largest Conference on entrepreneurship on Oct. 28 and 29, 2010 at The Henry, Dearborn.

In the early 20th century, it was the innovative and entrepreneurial spirit of European immigrants who invented the technologies, manufacturing processes and business practices that made America the world's economic leader. TiE Detroit’s track, Global Midwest: Immigration & Innovation as Drivers discussed how immigration and innovation will regenerate tarnished economies.

“Immigration and Innovation are the key drivers to rebuild a ‘Global Midwest.’ Embracing and attracting immigrants, their entrepreneurial culture and global connections are critical to our region’s success in the New Economy. Immigrants bring with them skills to invent new technologies that will continue to drive job creation and regional prosperity,” says Tel K. Ganesan, TiE Detroit president.

In a media conference call after the panel, we captured some of the insights from the panelists.

Steve TobacmanSteve Tobocman, former majority floor leader of the Michigan House of Representatives, has been spearheading Global Detroit, an initiative to grow southeast Michigan's economy by attracting and retaining global talent and investment. Global Detroit released a comprehensive study in May, helped secure $200,000 in funding from the Ford Foundation for the Welcoming Michigan initiative and will be developing multi-year funding for 11 strategic programs.

"We must get beyond the hysteria surrounding immigration and onto the facts," said Tobocman. "Immigrants are having an indisputably and enormously powerful and positive impact on Michigan's economic future."

Listen to Steve Tobacman discuss Global Detroit

Richard Herman Richard Herman is the co-author of "Immigrant, Inc." and co-chair of the Ohio Chapter of TiE. He spoke about Global Cleveland, whose executive advisory board includes Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson and major business leaders, is planning on launching an International Welcome Center that helps connect immigrants and international visitors to the resources and opportunities in Northeast Ohio.

Entities in Cleveland and Pittsburgh have recently secured the federal designation of a new regional investor visa center to enable foreign investors to invest in Cleveland and Pittsburgh businesses that hire local residents, while securing legal residency for the investor.

"This new conversation about immigrants' enormous contributions to our innovation and economic prosperity is beginning to gain traction, both within and outside of the rust belt," said Herman. He also cited the Great Lakes' Metropolitan Chambers of Commerce high-skill immigration policy, as well as New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Rupert Murdoch's new initiative, the Partnership for a New American Economy, as evidence of the growing call for national and regional strategies that embrace immigrant talent and ingenuity.

Listen to Richard Herman discuss Global Cleveland

Audrey RussoAudrey Russo is president and chief executive officer of the Pittsburgh Technology Council.

"I witness the unfulfilled demand for global talent every day in Pittsburgh's technology and high- growth industries," said Russo. "We cannot sit idly by while our tech entrepreneurs, the Henry Ford's of the 21st Century, leave our universities for Silicon Valley and the coasts. We must attract and retain the fuel that feeds the New Economy right here in the industrial and manufacturing heartland. Pittsburgh's recent success cannot be sustained without this vital international talent. To that end, Pittsburgh has been supporting a Welcome Mat initiative to insure new international residents have access to services, and it has been refining its pitch to global tech workers and engineers as a great place to live, work and play."

The Pittsburgh Technology Council soon will release its annual State of the Industry Report. This year's report shows that in the 13-county southwestern Pennsylvania region, there are more than 8,200 technology establishments (including health services counted as part of the life sciences industry cluster), which represents more than 11 percent of all companies in the region. These firms employ more than 231,000 individuals and account for 18.6 percent of the area's overall workforce. The $13.9 billion total annual payroll of these technology and related companies represents more than 26.2 percent of the region's wages.

Listen to Audrey Russo discuss Global Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh is the leading city with 50% of its non-native born people having a bachelor degree or higher. In Michigan, the foreign born are 3 times as likely to be in STEM (science, tech, engineering and math) as non-immigrant population.

Listen to Richard Herman discusses international students in the Great Lakes region

John Austin
John Austin, who currently serves as the vice president of the Michigan Board of Education, as well as a non-resident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, discusses the Education attainment level of foreign born in the Great Lakes region

Listen to John Austin and Richard Herman discuss how 20 of top 100 universities in the world are in the Great Lakes Region and how they can be an engine for economic growth

So is this a case where Cleveland, Detroit and Pittsburgh (along with CWRU, Carnegie-Mellon and U of Michigan for example) compete against each other? Or are there collaborative opportunities to make the Great Lakes region compete with Silicon Valley and the rest of the world for immigrant talent?

Listen to Midwest collaboration efforts

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