In Ohio, there is no doubt that immigrant entrepreneurs and innovators play an important role. Immigrant entrepreneurs bring in additional revenue, create jobs, and contribute significantly to the state’s economy. Highly skilled immigrants are vital to the state’s innovation economy, and to the metropolitan areas within the state, helping to boost local economies. Furthermore, local government, business, and non-profit leaders recognize the importance of immigrants in their communities and support immigration through local “welcoming” and integration initiatives.
- From 2006 to 2010, immigrants founded 20,768 businesses in Ohio, and in 2010, 6.7 percent of all business owners in Ohio were foreign-born.
- In 2010, new immigrant business owners had total business revenue of $1.3 billion, which is 5.7 percent of all business income in the state.
- Immigrant entrepreneurs have contributed to Ohio’s economy throughout the state’s history, founding such companies as Proctor & Gamble and Eaton Corporation. Other Ohio-based Fortune 500 companies had at least one immigrant or child of an immigrant co-founder, including Kroger, Limited Brands, Big Lots, and Owens-Illinois.
Highly skilled immigrants are vital to Ohio’s innovation economy.
- High-skilled immigrant workers contribute to the success of many Ohio-based companies and institutions with a significant presence in the state, including Larsen and Toubro Infotech Limited, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Cleveland Clinic, University of Cincinnati, Miami University, University of Toledo, Case Western Reserve University, Progressive Casualty Insurance Company, Ohio State University, JPMorgan Chase & Company, Wright State University, Abercrombie & Fitch Trading Company, and Sherwin-Williams Company.
- In 2011, the U.S. Department of Labor certified 7,777 H-1B labor certification applications in Ohio, with an average annual wage of $66,878, which is higher than Ohio’s median household income of $48,071 or per capita income of $25,618.
- The Cincinnati-Middletown metropolitan area had 1,583 H-1B high-skilled visa requests in 2010-2011, with 73.8 percent of H-1B visa-holders working in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) occupations.
- The Cleveland-Elyria-Mentor metropolitan area had 1,790 H-1B high-skilled visa requests in 2010-2011, with 60 percent of H-1B visa-holders working in STEM occupations.
- The Columbus metropolitan area had 2,655 H-1B high-skilled visa requests in 2010-2011, with 82.1 percent of H-1B visa-holders working in STEM occupations.
- An expansion of the high-skilled visa program would create an estimated 12,000 new jobs in Ohio by 2020. By 2045, this expansion would add around $4.8 billion to Gross State Product and increase personal income by more than $4.6 billion.
While the numbers are compelling, they don’t tell the whole story.
- Alvaro Maurice, originally from Caracas, Venezuela, moved back to Dayton in 2007 and is the CEO of Conquistador Consulting LLC.
- Bor Jang, originally from Taiwan, is CEO of both Angstron Materials and Nanotek Instruments, two successful high-tech companies in Dayton, Ohio.
- Several foreign-born business professionals and civic activists formed TiE Ohio, which is the first chapter in the state of the Tie Network—the world’s largest organization for encouraging entrepreneurship. The founders of the chapter saw a need to attract business from other countries to come to northeast Ohio, and to help people start their own businesses.
Some localities have begun recognizing and supporting immigration through local “welcoming” and integration initiatives.
- Welcome Dayton. Dayton is another example of a city that has decided to welcome and integrate new immigrants in their community, rather than allowing old stereotypes, fears, and preconceptions to hinder the future success of their region.
- The city of Dayton officially adopted the Welcome Dayton plan in October of 2011. With this initiative, Dayton embraces the perspective that “in a community where immigrants are welcomed, they receive mutual respect and support, while in an unwelcoming community they can experience isolation, poverty and social discord.”
- While Dayton has experienced a decline in its native-born population in recent years, it has also experienced increased immigrant and refugee settlement. With new immigrant populations moving in, Dayton witnessed new businesses starting up, new jobs being created, houses becoming rehabilitated, underused buildings being repurposed, and communities becoming rejuvenated and revitalized. The Welcome Dayton initiative helps further encourage these organic processes.
- Global Cleveland. Cleveland has undergone post-industrial population decline. Within that context, local leaders created the Global Cleveland initiative, the mission of which is “to increase the population of Northeast Ohio and strengthen the region by working with employers, colleges and universities and community organizations to attract and retain newcomers by connecting them to the region’s opportunities, resources and services and promoting the region as a welcoming place to all.”
- Global Cleveland offers a wealth of information to employers about the processes for hiring international students and international workers. This clearly indicates the need that Cleveland has for attracting talented workers from all sources.