The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Your View

November 19, 2009

Immigration key to business growth

Immigrants add $400 million to Minnesota economy

Facts are stubborn things when it comes to the value of immigration in Minnesota and the nation, but unfortunately, much of the immigration debate isn't informed by facts.

That's the essential conclusion of a report recently completed on immigration in Minnesota and backed by several business groups including the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce.

The report by the Humphrey Institute says immigrant-owned businesses in Minnesota generated $331 million in net income in Minnesota almost nine years ago. Adjusting for inflation, the figure is probably closer to $420 million.

Other salient facts: Hispanic-owned businesses have grown by 350 percent since 1990. The U.S. gains a net $37 billion from immigration, according to the Council of Economic Advisors. And some 25 percent of all doctors nationwide are immigrants as are 40 percent of engineers with Ph.Ds.

In Minnesota, immigration will play a key role in the state's economic future, according to the report. Immigrants add not only economic activity such as starting businesses, getting jobs, spending money and paying taxes, they also add to cultural diversity.

Report author Prof. Katherine Fennelly notes that the benefits don't always "trickle down" to local communities, but that lack of short-term benefits shouldn't outweigh the long-term benefits that occur when immigrants enter the labor force.

Of course, immigration has been a divisive and emotional issue and one where partisan lines are not easily drawn between Democrats and Republicans. In fact, Sen. John McCain, has been one of the leading proponents of immigration reform that values the diversity and economic benefit immigrants bring to the country.

Business groups may be the real fulcrum to move this issue forward for the economic benefit of everyone. That's why the Chamber and other coalition groups including the Minnesota Agri-Growth Council, Minnesota Nursery and Landscape Association, Minnesota Milk Producers Association, Minnesota Restaurant Association and Minnesota Lodging Association, deserve kudos for backing the study and the issue.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Your View