The Welcoming Michigan Story

We believe that being welcoming is the right thing to do, but that’s not the whole story.  Michigan is the only state that lost population between 2000 and 2010.  Considering how high unemployment in Michigan has been, some might say that’s a good thing — fewer people to compete for the jobs we do have.  

In 2008, the New Economy Initiative for Southeast Michigan, the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce, and the Skillman Foundation commissioned former State Representative Steve Tobocman to explore the idea of immigration as a potential strategy for reinventing the economy of that region.

Fewer people to compete for the jobs we do have.  But a shrinking population means many bad things:  smaller gross state product, smaller revenue bases for the state, local governments’ shrinking budgets, smaller school enrollment leading to less efficient school systems, smaller local markets for products and services produced in the state, and an aging population.  At all levels of our economy, from those who make sure the harvest comes in to those who make sure our advanced manufacturing base stays advanced, a smaller population base means a poorer, weaker, and less competitive Michigan.  

In 2008, the New Economy Initiative for Southeast Michigan, the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce, and the Skillman Foundation commissioned former State Representative Steve Tobocman to explore the idea of immigration as a potential strategy for reinventing the economy of that region.  The Global Detroit Study he wrote contained eleven recommendations, one of which was the need for an initiative to help make Michigan a more welcoming receiving community for new immigrants.  Thanks to that vision, the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center has had the opportunity to launch this statewide Welcoming Michigan initiative.  Welcoming Michigan is also actively participating in the work of Global Michigan, the immigrant attraction and retention project announced by Governor Rick Snyder in his first State of the State Address.