New Americans and a New Direction: The Role of Immigrants in Reviving the Great Lakes Region

Report Author: 
New American Economy and the Great Lakes Metro Chambers Coalition
Original Date of Publication: 
2017 Oct

This report examines population and demographic trends in the Great Lakes region and argues that immigrants are playing a key role in boosting the region's lagging population growth, especially among the working-age and college-educated populations. The report looks closely at the region's manufacturing, health care, and agricultural sectors. With manufacturing and health care, the arrival of college-educated immigrants is helping employers fill key positions that make possible the creation of working-class jobs that-in the manufacturing sector-are reversing decades of declining employment. In agriculture, immigrants are filling key entry-level jobs that are less appealing to working-class, native-born Americans. Without these workers, employers would have to cut back production and reduce the number of jobs available to native-born workers employed in farm-related industries. The report then turns to an examination of immigrant entrepreneurship. Between 2000 and 2015, 90 percent of 25 metro areas in the region experienced an increase in the number of immigrant entrepreneurs, with about half of those metro areas experiencing an increase of 100 percent or more. The report also examines the spending power, home ownership, and taxes paid by immigrants in the region. The report notes that between 2000 and 2015, the number of U.S.-born homeowners declined by 0.6 percent, while the number of immigrant homeowners increased by more than 36 percent. This increase in immigrant home ownership helped stabilize local property markets and boost home values. In conclusion, the report notes that immigrants have played a crucial role in stemming economic decline in the region, and the recognition of this fact by government and business leaders has led to the creation of more than 20 local economic development initiatives targeted at immigrants. These efforts have put the region ahead of other parts of the country in terms of thinking about the role immigrants can play in a local economic development strategy. (Maurice Belanger, Maurice Belanger Associates)

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New Americans and a New Direction

Report File: 

New American Economy & Great Lakes Metro Chambers Coalition. (2017). New Americans and a New Direction: The Role of Immigrants in Reviving the Great Lakes Region (p. 57). Washington, D.C. Retrieved from

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