For years, I have advocated the idea that immigration can be a powerful tool for economic growth. Now I have the perfect example to share.

In Detroit, Michigan, there is an organization called Global Detroit, an economic development initiative that focuses on integrating immigrants as a strategy for economic growth. Located in a city that in 2013 became the largest city in the United States to file for bankruptcy and led by former Michigan State Representative Steve Tobukman, Global Detroit runs programs focused on global talent, immigrant entrepreneurship, and neighborhood development, while exploring how to conduct research. Communication and politics can be used to build vitality and inclusion in a regional economy.

in 2019And the She launched the Global Entrepreneurs in Residence (Global EIR) program to assist immigrant entrepreneurs in the Detroit area.

The original EIR Global Alliance was created about half a decade ago by immigration policy startup strategist Craig Monturi. Brad Field, Co-Founder of Techstars, Author and Celebrity Investor at Foundry Group; and Harvard Business School lecturer, author, and Flybridge partner Jeff Bosgang. The EIR Global Model uses a class of unspecified H-1B work visas for universities to allow entrepreneurs to split their time between working at partner universities and raising funds to establish and grow their own start-ups.

The first university to turn the model into reality was the University of Massachusetts – Center for Enterprise Development in Boston. Initially led by William Brah, and now Bala Sundaram, Vice Dean for Research and Strategic Initiatives, the Enterprise Development Center has supported 81 founders who have raised $1.5 billion in venture capital and created about 2,500 jobs. Sundaram told me that the program is too successful to keep up with requests from entrepreneurs and investors who want to get involved.

Aijan Isakova, VDC Program Manager, now works with Global Detroit as the EIR Global Peer Network Coordinator as the program expands. Global Detroit has already connected local entrepreneurs with part-time jobs at the University of Michigan, Wayne State University and the School of Creative Studies. In three years, she supported eight founders from seven companies that raised more than $15 million and created more than 50 jobs.

In addition, Detroit Global’s Global Talent Retention Initiative (GTRI) program has helped Michigan employers recruit international students to fill critical talent gaps in the economy. Global Detroit has revealed a unique set of research data that tracks international students working full-time on the Optional Practical Training (OPT) portion of their student visas, finding that between 2004 and 2016, more than 40,000 international students joined the Michigan workforce. this way.

This pushed Michigan to 10th place among all other states based on the number of international students working on student visas during their 12-year study period. The number of international students recruited annually by Michigan companies increased by a remarkable 330% during that period.

In a press release, Michigan’s deputy governor and Global Detroit CEO both expressed their delight at the explosive growth. “Attracting and retaining talented students at our world-class universities is key to growing our economy, creating jobs, and building on Michigan’s heritage of innovation,” said Lt. Col. Garlin Gilchrist II. “The Detroit World Report highlighting the $825 million annual contribution of international students to Michigan’s economy shows the importance of building on our budget investment in global talent retention efforts statewide.”

Steve Tobukman, CEO of Global Detroit, said: “The state of Michigan’s recent allocation of funds, combined with a recent $52 million Federal Economic Development Administration grant in the region to build a global mobility hub, will enable Global Detroit and regional chambers of commerce and economic development organizations. across the state and industry groups and companies to build talent pipelines that clearly position our state as a global leader in attracting and retaining talent.”

There are many lessons to be learned from Global Detroit. Here are two:

First, although some universities have partnered with Global EIR, more needs to be done so that we realize the true potential and benefits that this program can bring across the country to enable talented startup founders to access an upstream startup migration path. early.

Second, if countries are to benefit from these programs through the jobs they create, then countries must make the necessary investments. They should create and fund programs like Global Detroit. Ohio is doing something similar with the Cleveland Global Initiative in Cleveland.

As a result of the impressive success of Global Detroit, Michigan will invest $5 million in expanding both Global EIR and GTRI statewide with funds for global attraction and retention programs in the FY2023 budget passed by the Republican legislature and signed into law in July 2022 .

Detroit’s bankruptcy announcement came on the heels of the previous recession, when the economy was hit hard and needed to find innovative ways to revive itself. Recognizing immigration as an economic strategy, and creating and investing in programs, was critical to its regrowth.

Now, as we enter another recession, perhaps even worse, Global Detroit and Michigan are the perfect models for demonstrating how harnessing immigrant talent can bring economic growth to American cities everywhere.


Watson protects us He is the founding attorney for Watson Immigration Law In Seattle, where she practices US immigration law focusing on business immigration. She has been blogging about immigration law since 2008 and has written many articles for many publications. she is an author Legal Heroes in the Age of Trump: Be Inspired. Expand your influence. change the world And the The Startup Visa: Key to Job Growth and Economic Prosperity in America. She is also the founder of the Washington Immigrant Defense Network (WIDN).expand), which funds and facilitates legal representation in the immigration courtroom, and co-founder of Airport Lawyers, which provided important services during the early travel ban. Tahmina is reported regularly in the media and is the introduction to the podcast Tahmina talks about immigration. She holds honors in the Puget Sound Business Journal 2020 Women of Influence. interested in trade It was recently named one of the best immigration attorneys in the United States helping technology startups. You can reach her via email at [email protected]And the Connect with her on LinkedIn Or follow her on Twitter @tahminawatson.

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