Michigan Leaders Outline Need for Immigrants to Grow State Economy

A coalition of business and industry leaders met this week at the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce to launch the Michigan Compact on Immigration, a set of principles outlining the need for smart immigration policies at the federal and state levels that recognize the role immigrants play in driving Michigan’s economy.
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Michigan business leaders have released the Michigan Compact on Immigration, which outlines the importance of immigrants to Michigan’s economy. // Stock photo

A coalition of business and industry leaders met this week at the Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce to launch the Michigan Compact on Immigration, a set of principles outlining the need for smart immigration policies at the federal and state levels that recognize the role immigrants play in driving Michigan’s economy.

“We are a proud co-signer of the Michigan Compact on Immigration,” says Wendy Block, vice president of business advocacy and member engagement for the Michigan Chamber of Commerce. “The Michigan Chamber supports reforming our nation’s immigration policy because it is critical to attracting the talent and business our state and nation needs to continue to grow.”

The compact’s signatories represent more than 20,000 companies and more than 1 million employees. It calls for a federal immigration system that responds to the needs of Michigan employers and workers in a time when talent attraction and retention is critical to the state’s economic growth.

“SBAM supports the Michigan Compact on Immigration because immigration policy plays a critical role in talent attraction and retention in Michigan,” says Brian Calley, president of the Small Business Association of Michigan. “To keep our economy growing, we must have the brightest and best talent, and that includes immigrants, who already play a significant role in our local and state economies. Bipartisan immigration policy reforms will help us maintain and build an environment of success for small businesses.”

The compact comes as data from New American Economy’s Map the Impact is released. The study shows that in 2018, immigrants held $18.4 billion in spending power and paid $2.1 billion in state and local taxes. They make up 7 percent of the state’s population but more than 17 percent of STEM workers. Michigan faces a workforce shortage in STEM jobs; as of 2015, there were 19 open STEM jobs for each employed STEM worker. Immigrants also make up 28 percent of physicians in the state. Immigrant-founded businesses generated more than $27.3 billion in sales and employed more than 167,000 Michigan residents in 2016.

“Michigan’s population growth over the past two decades has been completely attributed to immigration,” says Doug Rothwell, president and CEO of Business Leaders for Michigan. “Our newest residents have helped strengthen our talent base, but we need to accelerate our growth. The states that embrace and welcome new citizens will grow the fastest and have the economic strength to provide critical shared services for all: a well-funded education system and modernized infrastructure. Our state’s largest employers are stepping forward to say: ‘You’re welcome here. Help us grow.’”

The complete compact and its list of signatories is available here.

The Map the Impact study is available here.

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