July 23, 2008
Pittsburgh's Immigrant Future
Thanks to Richard Herman for this from Action News in Pittsburgh:
"With its shrinking local population, the Pittsburgh area's best hope for a bright future may rest on the shoulders of people who haven't even made it to the United States yet.
Barry Balmat, the Pittsburgh director of the Rand Corp. think tank, believes immigrants can bring Pittsburgh new life. "Return to growth in the population, instead of a decline in population," Balmat said....
Today, just 3 percent of people in metro Pittsburgh -- a little more than 71,000 -- are foreign-born, compared to 12.5 percent nationally.
Martha Benson came to Pittsburgh from Bogota, Colombia, in 2002. She's a business consultant at the Duquesne University Small Business Development Center, assisting fellow immigrant entrepreneurs.
"They have a lot of skills, and they see Pittsburgh as an opportunity to start their company," Benson said.
"They're kind of the natural strivers," Balmat said. "They do make up a large percentage of entrepreneurs -- people who are kind of willing to take chances. They've packed up and left someplace to come here."
Entrepreneur and investment manager Ganesh Mani, a Pittsburgher who was born in India, is on the local board of TiE (The Indus Entrepreneurs).
"Pittsburgh has wonderful infrastructure -- the universities, the airport -- but it's also underutilized infrastructures. So, from an entrepreneurial standpoint, that's where the opportunities are," Mani said.
The top five birthplaces for today's foreign-born Pittsburgh-area residents are India, with 7,800 people relocated here, followed by Latin American countries (7,000), China (6,500), Italy (5,600) and African countries (4,400). Click here for the rest of the story.
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"Return to growth in the population, instead of a decline in population," Balmat said....
There's this little problem. How do you get 'people who haven't even made it to the United States yet' to live in a place that current immigrants already don't want to? We already have indentured servitude visas which tie visa holders to companies; are we going to do something similar for certain parts of the country requiring that immigrants live there with no freedom of movement? Turn Pittsburgh into sort of an economic prison for immigrants a la Escape From New York (sci-fi movie in which Manhattan was converted into a prison)? To let in even MORE immigrants with a hope that a higher proportion will settle in the rust belt is a pipe dream. Whatever reasons native residents are leaving and current immigrants are staying away will apply as well to new immigrants.
Posted by: Jack | Jul 24, 2008 5:10:08 AM
I'm sure that for every million new arrivals allowed, a few would go to Pittsburgh. The problem is that many times more will go to, e.g., California which is already projected to hit 50 million by mid-century and already facing water shortages at the current population.
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