In The New Global And Multicultural Marketplace, Immigrants Hold A Key To Revitalizing NE Ohio

by Rose A. Zitiello, Esq. and Richard T. Herman, Esq.

I. Introduction: The Globalizing of Our Region, Ready or Not?

The past decade has brought change in almost every aspect of our lives as a result of globalization. Due to the Internet, satellite communications, ease of travel, fall of the Soviet Union and opening up of China, people from all over the world are connecting, transferring information and engaging in "borderless" commerce at an irreversible pace. In 1995, the world's economic output was $4 trillion. By 2000, it grew to $21 trillion. Notwithstanding 9/11, SARS, and xenophobic parochialism, there is an intensification of global competition for talent and innovation, investment dollars, and consumers.
In light of Cleveland's alarming rate of depopulation and economic decline, the region's future will be heavily dependent on leveraging our rich global resources and immigrant tradition to create "an international city of the 21st century."

Immigration, global trade, and multicultural diversity are the new inter-related frontiers for economic and community development as cities like Cleveland formulate policies to stem depopulation, reverse economic deterioration and support positive community relations. If properly channeled, immigrant entrepreneurs, investors, and technology innovators can provide an economic engine for revitalizing the region's economy and provide a bridge to the global and multicultural marketplace.

Immigrant clusters have revitalized cities and spurred growth through technology start-ups, small neighborhood proprietorship, real estate investment, and international trade.

Cleveland is not attracting its share of new immigrants, and it is suffering for it. Dr. Sanda Kaufman of Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University recently released a study entitled, Immigration and Urban Development: Implications For Greater Cleveland, (available at: http://urban.csu/ruth_ratner_miller), that identifies a handful of U.S. regions that have attracted the majority of the latest immigration waves and connects immigration and urban economic development. The study concluded that Cleveland needs to attract more immigrants who can populate the region and help revitalize the economy.

To underscore the importance of this topic and the public discourse that is currently being aired in NE Ohio, The Plain Dealer recently ran the following: front-page headline Quiet Crises story, "Can Immigrants Save the Region?"; the follow-up Editorial entitled "The Welcome Mat: Cleveland has to make a stronger play for immigrants, and the help of local ethnic communities is essential;" and "Immigrants are the City's Future."

To further explore these issues, The Global Issues Resource Center of Cuyahoga Community College (with assistance from ideastream-WVIZ and WCPN) is presenting a broad-based community event on November 6, 2003 entitled: "From There to Here: New Immigrants Redefining Our Community." In conjunction with over 20 community-based project partners (including the ACLU, the National Conference for Community and Justice, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Ohio Civil Rights Commission, and various immigrant and ethnic organizations), the event includes an advance partial screening of a PBS documentary entitled "New Americans," video footage on Cleveland's new immigrants, a panel of experts to discuss civil rights and economic development issues, and a taste of ethnic foods.

There clearly is an emerging understanding in NE Ohio that immigrants present an emerging resource for economic and cultural development.

Professor Richard Florida, of regional economic development at Carnegie Melon University and author of "The Rise of the Creative Class and How It's Transforming Work, Leisure, Community and Everyday Life" says that immigrant influx and attendant multicultural environments help to attract the young entrepreneurs who drive the new knowledge-based economy.

See also "Thriving Locally in the Global Economy," Rosabeth Moss Kanter, Ph.D., Harvard Business Review, August, 2003. Dr. Kanter, a native of Cleveland, studies 5 cities including Cleveland, and concludes that "success will those cities, states, and regions that do the best job of linking the businesses that operate within them to the global economy." Citing the success of Spartanburg-Greenville, South Carolina, Dr. Kanter found four critical factors in globalizing a region: " visionary leadership, a friendly business climate, a commitment to training, and a sprit of collaboration among businesses and between business and local government." The real challenge is to mobilize local residents to "open their minds," and to "become more cosmopolitan, with extended horizons and higher standards."

See also "The Lexus and the Olive Tree" (HarperCollins, 2000), by Thomas Friedman, New York Times reporter on harnessing globalization forces for economic development.

The extent to which we as a regional destination understand these factors and respond to them will dictate our success as compared to other U.S. regions. Northeast Ohio can leverage its fragmented international assets to help import technology, attract and build new businesses which create jobs, increase our exports, and repopulate urban areas. Other cities have already implemented immigration and globalization initiatives.

II.) A New Model: Attracting Immigrants to Rejuvinate the Economy, Globalize, and Repopulate

Immigrants are a mobile population that generally does not have multi-generational roots in the U.S. Whether they live overseas, or have already arrived in North America, immigrants provide the best opportunity to attract newcomers to Cleveland.

Historically, immigrant laborers moved to Cleveland to obtain employment in the steel or manufacturing industry. However, it was a family or friend connection to Cleveland that primarily motivated immigrants to choose this city as home. This part is still true today.

What has changed today is that migration is not just a "push" of poorer people to improve their financial condition, but migrants are increasingly "pulled" by a city or state trying to plug an obvious gap.

With an eroding manufacturing and population base, increasing numbers of mid-size cities are aggressively recruiting immigrants who can contribute to job creation through entrepreneurship, foreign direct investment and technology talent, as well as immigrants who can help alleviate a well-documented labor shortages, such as nursing.

This economic development approach is not new. As G. Pascal Zachary, London-based Wall Street Journal reporter, points out in his book The Global Me (New Cosmopolitans and the Competitive Edge: Picking Globalism's Winners and Losers), the King of Prussia, Frederick William, selectively invited outsiders to move to his kingdom, consciously choosing settlers who would bring money, expertise and skills." By 1725, one-fifth of the residents of his Brandenburg province were born abroad. Berlin, its capital city, "was transformed by the energy and skills of the immigrants."

Modern day examples of selective in-migration as an economic development tool can be seen in Toronto (43% of total population is foreign born), Vancouver (38% foreign born), Singapore (25% foreign born), which are thriving with affluent and highly skilled newcomers. Singapore government official George Yeo defends selectively targeting talented foreigners to relocate to Singapore: "Every foreigner we bring to Singapore must be a net assetÖin a post-modern economy, you need much more talent" referring to what Zachary calls the armies of brain-workers who produce the intellectual property that has replaced raw materials and manufacturing as the primary source of new wealth.

This year both Hong Kong and Scotland adopted programs to attract immigrant talent and immigrant investment capital. Canada's federal immigration laws and marketing budget already encourages a mass influx of foreign talent and foreign capital.

III.) Medium-Sized Regions that are Recently Exploring Strategies to Attract Immigrants

While mega international destinations like New York City, Toronto or Vancouver are interesting to study because of their massive volume of immigration and the accompanying economic vitality, medium-sized Midwest regions provide better guidance for Northeast Ohio.

Pittsburgh is one of the cities leading the charge in the Midwest. The Wall Street Journal recently outlined Pittsburgh's attempts to attract immigrant entrepreneurs, professionals and workers in shortage areas ("Feeling Snubbed by Immigrants, Pittsburgh Acts," May 28, 2003). In that article, Cleveland was referred to as a member of an "unintentionally exclusive club," alongside Pittsburgh, St. Louis, New Orleans, Baltimore, Milwaukee, and Buffalo, of big cities with "few new immigrants from Hispanic countries or almost anywhere else."

The Heinz Endowments Foundation funded Pittsburgh's efforts to build an immigrant-recruitment model, built on salesmanship of Pittsburgh's amenities. Over $800,000 has been awarded in foundation grants to help lure immigrants with jobs, encourage foreign students to stay after graduation, and teach the community about international diversity. A website clearinghouse for these efforts is contained at

These efforts were grounded in significant research by Jordan S. Yin, Ph.D., Center for Competitive Workforce Development, Institute for Economic Transformation, Duqesne University, contained in the following: "Discussion Paper: New Americans and the Future of Pittsburgh: The Role of New and Recent Immigrants in a Regional Population and Economic Development Strategy," December, 2001. "New Americans and the Future of Pittsburgh: International Communities and Regional Economic Development," August, 2002.

Commentator George Will described Pittsburgh's plan to attract immigrants as a "splendid American story." ("Pittsburgh seeks to return to its immigrant roots," 6/1/03, :

Pittsburgh is no longer a 'steel city.' Its largest employer is the University of Pittsburgh and its medical center. But like the rest of America, it still needs a steady infusion of immigrantsÖ immigrants go where other immigrants from their country have gone. when European immigration stopped, Pittsburgh did not become a destination for immigrants from Latin American and Asia. Americans who complain about immigration do not know what Pittsburgh knows: We still need immigrants. Always will.

Additional efforts in Pittsburgh to articulate the need to attract young people from diverse backgrounds is contained in the report "Allegheny Conference on Community Development, Task Force on Young People, Subcommittee on International Diversity." The committee was led by the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh and was comprised of various immigrant, foundation, university, and international organizations.

Other mid-sized city and region's efforts to attract immigrants include the following:

Philadelphia: Councilman James Kenney has designed a plan to attract immigrants, entitled "A Plan to Attract New Philadelphians" which would promote the city in American consulates abroad, attract more flights to and from Latin American and Asia, and help assimilate immigrants. The Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians, a Philadelphia regional clearinghouse and job-advice service for immigrants and employers, was established in July, 2003 with funding and support by the Philadelphia AFL-CIO, Pennsylvania Department of Economic Development, the Samuel Fels Foundation, and area banks. The Philadelphia-Area Immigration Resource Center spearheaded the effort.

Louisville: The Office of International & Cultural Affairs focuses on making immigrants feel welcome and assisting them in areas such as business and economic development. Efforts based on research University of Louissvile, for the C.E. & S. Roundation, entitled "Attracting Immigrant Talent to the Louisville Metropolitan Area: Recommendations," October, 2001.

Baltimore: Mayor Martin O'Malley, responding to a recent report commissioned by the Abell Foundation ("Attracting New Americans Into Baltimore's Neighborhoods: Immigration Is the Key to Reversing Baltimore's Population Decline") said that attracting large numbers of immigrants, from abroad or within the U.S., was going to be the key to reversing Baltimore's half-century decline of population.

Indianapolis: Funded by the Foellinger Foundation, the Allen County/Fort Wayne Community Immigration Project produced a report which examines the problems faced by new immigrants, the impact on the community of increased diversification, and the need to welcome new immigrants.

Minneapolis: in August, 2000, a report was prepared by the City of Minneapolis Interdepartmental New Arrivals Work Group entitled "Welcoming Arrivals to Minneapolis: Issues and Recommendations."

Schenectady, New York: The city recruits Guyanese immigrants from New York City, leading them on bus tours and touting the low cost of living. Schenectady now has 3,000 Guyanese residents, many of whom own their own business.

Iowa: The state of Iowa has implemented a plan to attract immigrants. See New Iowans Model Community Project, Iowa 2010 Plan; and the Immigration Business Assistance Program by the Iowa Dept of Economic Development. See "Resource and Referral Guide: Hiring and Working With New Iowans."

These regions understand that entrepreneurs and highly skilled workers create jobs, regardless of where they come from. However, some efforts to import talent and investment have been met with local resistance based upon fear of outsiders competing for scarce resources and creating ethnic discord. A comprehensive plan that educates Northeast Ohioans about international diversity and economic opportunities would foster a pro business immigration and globalization policy.

IV. Cleveland Is Near the Bottom of the Top 50 Largest Cities in Attracting New Immigrants

A recent report by demographer William H. Frey found that Cleveland is ranked near the bottom of the 50 largest metropolitan areas in the nation in its share of new immigrants. (Cleveland: 43rd; Pittsburgh: 47th; Buffalo: 48th).

This is important because the U.S. Census tells us that immigration is the dominant factor in overall population growth and stability. Put another way, cities generally can not replicate itself with its own population and must seek outsiders to grow, or at least slow the rate of depopulation.

Since 1990 the Cleveland Akron Metropolitan Area reported 135,397 foreign born residents of which 59,724 entered after 1990. Ohio reports that 159,000 foreign born entered since 1990. However, in excluding regional and suburb statistics, the City of Cleveland's current foreign-born population is only 21,000, or 4% of its total population. At the heyday of Cleveland during the first-half of the 20th century, Cleveland's foreign-born community was nearly 40% of the total population.

Despite this poor performance in attracting new immigrants, Cleveland can build on its small but growing Asian, Hispanic, Middle Eastern, and African populations. Asian and Hispanic populations in Cuyahoga County grew approximately 50% from 1990 to 2000. Similarly, the Cleveland metro region also has a fast-growing Middle Eastern immigrant community, which ranks as the 11th largest in the nation. There is also a visible increase in the numbers of African immigrants coming to Cleveland.

V.) The Nation's Ethnic Demography is Changing and Creating Market Opportunities at Home and Abroad

America is undergoing an ethnic and cultural transformation fueled by a world economy and new waves of immigration from Latin and Asian countries.

The U.S. Census indicates that foreign-born population in the U.S. is about 11.5%, which is widely recognized as a significant undercount due to difficulty in counting immigrant population.

Between 1990 and 2000, the foreign-born population rose 57%. The number of foreign-born and first-generation U.S. residents (56 million) has reached the highest level in U.S. history. More Americans now speak a language other than English at home, rising from 15.7% in 1990 to 21% in 2000. This trend is beginning to reach the Midwest, where only a tenth of the population is bilingual, increasing from 8.1% in 1990 to 11% in 2000. Immigration accounted for nearly 60% of the population growth in the U.S. between 1990 and 2000.

The new predominant immigrant groups are of Hispanic and Asian origin. Census data 2000 indicates the big 6 states still dominate with the greatest percent change in foreign-born population. California, Texas, New York, Florida, Illinois and New Jersey recorded an increase of more than a half million immigrants, while the increase in foreign born in 19 other south east, south west and midwest states had increases of more than 100,000 but less than 500,000.

There are more than 32 million immigrants in the U.S. About 1 million new immigrants arrive each year in the U.S.

The foreign-born demographic breakdown is as follows:

2000 National Census Data:
17 million from Latin America: 53%
8.5 million from Asian Countries: 27%
2.6 million from Europe: 8%
1.5 million from Middle East: 5%
1.0 million from Africa: 3%
1.5 million from other regions: 4%

While immigrants from Africa and the Middle East remain a small percentage of recent immigration to the U.S., those communities offer a tremendous resource to this country. Census 2000 indicated that immigrants from African countries have the highest percentage of bachelor's degrees, and the highest percentage of education beyond high school, compared to immigrants from other areas of the world. Middle Eastern immigrants earn more than the median income for Americans overall, and they are twice as likely to own a business compared to Americans overall. Both African and Middle Eastern immigration waves are expected to increase significantly over the next 10 years.

Growth of immigrant communities in the U.S. has spurred a significant increase of their economic clout. Hispanic annual purchasing power in the U.S. is almost $600 billion. Asian-American purchasing power in the U.S. is $300 billion annually. Immigrant households are projected to grow dramatically in the 21st century to represent more than one-quarter of overall household growth. During the 1990s, Asian-owned businesses improved revenues by more than 463 percent, while Hispanic businesses grew by 417 percent. Foreign remittances from immigrants to their families in the homeland amount to $28 billion per year.

In light of these emerging domestic markets, it is clear that America's economic future is inextricably linked to its immigrant and minority communities. The often-cited words of Auguste Compte, "Demography was destiny," ring loud and clear after Census 2000.

VI.) Cleveland Needs to Attract Immigrant Entrepreneurs, Technology Talent, and Investors

While the immigrant and multicultural consumer market is important, perhaps the most important contribution by the immigrant community is in the area of science and engineering innovation. Professor AnnaLee Saxenian, of UCLA and the Public Policy Institute of California, recently published: "Silicon Valley's Skilled Immigrants: Generating Jobs and Wealth for California." She found that 1/3 of the scientific and engineering work force in Silicon valley, and 1/4 of all founders of technology start-ups, were immigrants, many of which have advanced degrees from U.S. universities.

Saxenian found that many foreign born scientists and engineers in Silicon Valley acted as entrepreneurs and as middlemen who facilitate trade and investment links with their countries of origin. In 1998, immigrants collectively accounted for more than $16.5 billion in sales and over 58,000 jobs in Silicon Valley.

The internationalization of innovation is best represented by the following statistics:

Cities like Austin, Denver, Boston, and San Jose have greatly benefited from high levels of immigrant technology talent helping to shape a work force with skills that firms need. Nearly 25% of all technology start-ups in Austin in recent years were started by immigrant entrepreneurs. Almost 25% of the founders or chairman of the biotech companies in the U.S. that went public in the early 1990s also originally came from outside the U.S.

The rate of business ownership is 20% higher for foreign-born than native born. See research "Immigration Entrepreneurship in the United States: Trends, Research and Theory," by Pyong Gap Min and Mehdi Bozorgmehr, presented at the 2002 Annual Conference of Entrepreneurial Finance. Also see: Immigrant Entrepreneurs, Venturing Abroad in an Age of Globalization, Edited by Robert Kloosterman & Jan Roth, Berg Publishers and New York University Press, August, 2003.

The entrepreneurial and risk-taking factor in the immigrant community, coupled with scientific accomplishment, networks of fellow countrymen providing seed capital and access to inexpensive overseas labor markets, provide a formidable combination.

Recent success by the Cleveland World Trade Center, the Ohio Israel Chamber of Commerce, and the India Ohio Chamber of Commerce to attract foreign companies to Northeast Ohio provides a blueprint that should be duplicated in targeted regions worldwide. Other U.S. regions have accelerated their recruitment of foreign companies. A discussion group led by the Cleveland Foundation has found that Atlanta has attracted over 50 Israeli technology companies. Research Triangle Park in North Carolina attracted 41 Japanese, 34 English, and 25 German companies over a three-year outreach program. Maryland has attracted over 500 foreign-based businesses.

Attracting new skilled immigrants will also be necessary to help alleviate the coming skilled labor shortage in the U.S. As the baby boomers retire, the workforce will stop growing. The National Association of Manufacturers indicates that a "skilled worker gap" will start to appear in 2005 and grow to 5.3 million workers by 2010, and 14 million 10 years later.

In light of emerging domestic multicultural markets and the role that immigrants play in the knowledge-based economy, Cleveland's rich diversity and immigrant history provides a key to its future economic renaissance.

VII.) Cleveland's Diversity and Immigrant History Provide An Opportunity for Its Economic Future

Cleveland has a rich history in attracting immigrants and today boasts many diverse and vibrant immigrant communities from 117 countries worldwide.

Our region is the result of struggles and contributions of past immigrants and those from interstate migration whose sheer determination and sacrifices to find a better life here has left an indelible mark. Former traditional European ethnic enclaves in the Cleveland area continue to evolve as old groups move out and assimilate and new ones emerge bringing new life to aging and often underutilized neighborhoods. Over the past fifty years the Clark Fulton neighborhood has evolved from an Italian enclave to a viable and colorful community predominantly Puerto Rican, following still are other Latin American immigrants. Fairfax/ Glenville founded by some of Cleveland's wealthy families and later the center of the Jewish community has become the focal point for Cleveland's African American arts and culture as well as Cleveland's success story for the new construction of hundreds of new market rate homes and condominiums.

Cedar Road provides our established Jewish community with a welcoming village of restaurants, social cultural and spiritual opportunities that new Russian immigrants have gravitated to. Albanian immigrants have established a community in Lakewood where former eastern European immigrants lived.

Lorain Avenue in the Westown neighborhood has been transformed into a middle eastern market by Palestinian and Jordanian immigrants that have established popular import stores, bakeries, restaurants and services while historic China town in the St. Clair Superior neighborhood has re-merged as commercial success due to the entrepreneurial talent and vision of some of our Chinese American business owners.

Recognizing the importance of this history for its cross -cultural educational value to globalizing our community, Cuyahoga Community College, and its affiliate SMART TV produces, Cleveland's Diversity, Historic and Contemporary Cultures Their Struggles and Contributions. Now in its third year the popularity of this cable series illustrates the marketability of our diversity. Efforts to market them as destinations for our local and regional communities and tourists should be a priority by State and regional visitor and travel bureaus.

A survey of Cleveland's international assets suggests that the foundation to "globalize" Cleveland and attract immigrant talent and entrepreneurship already exists. Many of our private sector and public institutions, trade organizations, social service providers, arts, culture and travel industries have already recognized the potential of these markets.

The challenge to "globalize" Cleveland will depend on its success in coordinating its existing international resources so that the region can send one clear message to the world that we are "open for business" and that we will do all that is possible to assist foreign talent to relocate to Cleveland, to facilitate their business interests, and help them acculturate and integrate into Cleveland's multicultural fabric.

VIII.) Sending the Message: Cleveland is a Global City

Cleveland is not on the radar screen in many parts of the world, particularly in emerging foreign markets. Remedying this fact and globalizing NE Ohio will require the creation of a coordinated package of services and incentives, focused public awareness/education, and a marketing strategy, implemented by the following initiatives: IX. Conclusion

The city of Cleveland under the direction of Mayor Jane Campbell has begun to evaluate policies and programs to support a globalization plan. However regional support is necessary for seamless integration of a globalization culture.

Globalization and domestic multicultural markets are here to stay. Multicultural meccas with hyper global connectivity will dominate the 21st century. We can continue to be lulled into accepting the status quo and inhibit growth from the outside, or we can send a message to the world that "Cleveland is open for business," and back it up with aggressive programs and projects that visibly demonstrate our international commitment.

To learn more about the economic and cultural development opportunities presented by immigrants to NE Ohio, attend "From There to Here: New Immigrants Redefining Our Community" presented by Tri-C's Global Issues Resource Center on November 6, 2003. For info see here:.

About The Author

Authors' Note: Please feel free to send us your comments! Community feedback and inclusion are indispensable to the difficult process of harnessing globalization forces for economic development. Send your comments on how Cleveland should transform into an "International City: A Multicultural Mecca."

Ms. Zitiello and Mr. Herman are available for public speaking engagements and consulting on the topic of "How To Globalize Your Company, Your City, Yourself"

Rose Zitiello, Esq. is a specialist in community development, and host of Cuyahoga County Community College, Smart TV program "Cleveland's Diversity, Historic and Contemporary Cultures Their Struggles and Contributions." She can be reached at:

Richard Herman, Esq. is the principal of Richard T. Herman & Associates, a Cleveland multicultural law firm speaking over 10 languages and serving diverse communities. He can be reached at:


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