After Gov. Rick Snyder’s State of the State address I received a phone call from our local news source to see what my take was on things. I had to be honest that I hadn’t really been up to speed on things, but did my best to get the details as the reporter explained the topic he was focusing on. The topic was about creating a more welcoming environment for immigrant companies to work and invest in our great state of Michigan. So I quickly jumped on board with the topic and this is how it made its way into the article, I hope you like it!
Immigrants eyed for business
Written by Christopher Behnan – Daily Press & Argus
Jan. 19, 2014 | livingstondaily.com
Some business leaders and officials are cautiously optimistic about a plan to give immigrants incentives to set up shop and create jobs in Michigan.
Others said the plan to invest in immigrant entrepreneurs is long overdue.
Gov. Rick Snyder announced the plan in Thursday’s State of the State address.
The Michigan Office for New Americans, which will aim to attract immigrants who have advanced degrees or who hope to start their own businesses, will be created through an executive order.
Frontal Lobe, a business incubator in downtown Howell, encourages entrepreneurs, regardless of origin, to use the facility to get their ideas off the ground, said Fabrizio Tarara, Frontal Lobe’s founder and operator.
“We are obviously open to all walks of life to bring people in. The more diverse group of people that we can bring into a place like that, the better we’re going to be and the better results we’re going to see,” Tarara said.
“We would definitely be interested in bringing in as many people as we can from diverse backgrounds to kind of help broaden people’s outlooks on business from a global perspective,” he added.
Tarara said out-of-state businesses have expressed interest in Frontal Lobe’s facilities, but that immigrants either here or abroad have not contacted him.
The business incubator, which offers low-rent use of business office space, currently hosts about 20 Michigan-based entrepreneurs.
Also in his speech, Snyder urged Congress to approve Michigan’s application for a state-sponsored EB-5 visa regional center.
Vermont is the first state to run the federal program, which reserves a pool of visas for foreign investors who invest capital into approved business projects, according to Vermont’s website.
More details on Snyder’s plan — including whether tax dollars will fund it — will be released this week, said Dave Murray, Snyder’s spokesman.
The extra detail is needed to confirm the program won’t place existing businesses and entrepreneurs on the back burner, said Charles Owens, Michigan director of the National Federal of Independent Business.
“If they’re bringing in capital and skills, I would have to assume that they are going to provide jobs. I don’t see that as a negative at all,” Owens said.
“I think the concept is a sound one on one condition … they don’t get some kind of advantage that would crowd out folks that are already here or give them an advantage over a potential competitor that is over here. That, we would be a little sensitive to,” he added.
Owens said he’s confident in Snyder’s business acumen, given Snyder’s elimination of the Michigan Business Tax, phaseout of the personal property tax and elimination of outdated business regulations.
“I think that it’s fair to say he’s done a lot for the businesses that are here,” Owens said. State Rep. Bill Rogers, R-Genoa Township, said he was relieved to hear Snyder specify “legal immigrants” in introducing the program last week.
Rogers said there has been too much debate, particularly in Washington, on measures to help illegal immigrants assimilate in this country.
“We are a nation of immigrants. We have a path to citizenship, and we have a methodology to do this legally and always have,” he said.
“For him to emphasize that, I thought was an excellent idea,” Rogers added.
The new program follows Snyder’s call in 2012 for changes at the federal level to help immigrants with advanced degrees or who are entrepreneurs create jobs. He asked Michigan universities, the Michigan Regional Council of Carpenters and Millwrights, the Operating Engineers Union and the Teamsters to push for the changes.
State Sen. Joe Hune, R-Hamburg Township, didn’t return messages for this story.