Last year, Alabama enacted the country’s most restrictive laws against illegal immigration. One week later, Dayton, Ohio, set out a welcome mat for immigrants. And it’s not alone.
In the second part of our look at immigrants and the Midwest, we’ve found many local governments are trying to attract immigrants as an economic development strategy.
Tom Wahlrab from Welcome Dayton speaks to Global Detroit.
Dayton got attention from all over the world last fall when its city commission unanimously approved a plan called Welcome Dayton to make it an “immigrant-friendly city.” Since then, the town has been inundated.
“We have people calling us from South Africa that read about us in the local paper,” Tom Wahlrab, one of the plan’s architects, said recently in Detroit. “We have people from North China that want to immigrate here, they thought we could help them.”
Worth it? The state of Wisconsin spent nearly $50 million to support investment companies that were supposed to help create new businesses. In the end, only 202 jobs were created, at a cost to taxpayers of $247,000 per job, according to an investigation by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Job openings for veterans GE says it will hire 5,000 U.S. military veterans, and open new factories. One new factory will be in Dayton, Ohio.
A big economic bite “Folksy” northeast Ohio food manufacturing companies have grown into a $2.6 billion industry with 18,000 workers, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
Tough decisions Leaders in the city of Detroit are still trying to come up with ways to avoid financial insolvency. The Detroit News says some of the city’s most treasured assets may have to be sold. And leaders at the Detroit Institute of Arts also have to consider what was once unthinkable: selling valuable items in the Institute’s collection.
A taxing problem Michigan Governor Rick Snyder is hoping to do away with a costly and confusing property tax for corporations. But the Detroit Free Press reports no one is quite sure how to replace the revenue it creates.
More healthcare jobs The Columbus Dispatch reports that new hospitals at Ohio State University are expected to create 8,400 permanent jobs.
Eau Claire’s own Wisconsin native Justin Vernon had a pretty good night at the Grammys.
Three stories making news across the Midwest today:
1. Dayton seeks immigrant influx. Among industrial Midwest cities seeking to stop a population hemorrhage, Dayton, Ohio hardly stands alone in its attempts to attract highly educated immigrants. What’s unusual in Dayton is that the city wants the rest of the immigrants too. City Manager Tim Riordan tells our partner station WBEZ that welcome all immigrants regardless of skill or wealth will create “a vibrancy” in the city. Dayton’s population sank 14.8 percent over the past decade to 141,527 in the 2010 U.S. Census, a steep decline from its all-time high of 262,000 in the 1960s. Currently, foreign-born residents account for 3 percent of the city’s residents. But Riordan says newcomers are already building foundations in the western Ohio city.
2. Chrysler sales skyrocket. Driven by rising consumer confidence, Chrysler reported today that sales rose 45 percent in November year over year. Brand sales rose 92 percent thanks to increased demand for the 200 and 300 sedans, and Jeep sales increased 50 percent from November 2010. General Motors and Ford are both expected to release monthly sales numbers later today. “Consumer confidence is really what’s going to underpin us as we go into 2012, so we’re really pleased to see that showing up,” GM’s Don Johnson tells our partner Michigan Radio. Industry sales appear to be on pace for 13 million units in 2011.
3. Ohio courts Sears. Two days after Illinois lawmakers jilted Sears Holdings Corp. in its attempt to win tax incentives worth $100 million from the state, the Chicago-based company has a new suitor. Ohio has offered Sears incentives worth four times that amount to relocate its headquarters and 6,200 jobs to the Buckeye State. Texas is another state aggressively courting the company, according to the office of Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn. His counterpart, Ohio Gov. John Kasich, declined to confirm or deny an offer to Sears, joking with The Columbus Dispatch that, “we are somewhere between $0 and $400 million.”