On Wednesday August 3, 2016 Global Cleveland joined a Coalition of Business and community leaders from across Ohio for a Press Conference that presented new Ohio-specific data on the economic contributions of immigrants in our state. The partnership for a New American Economy, (PNAE) released a study today reporting that “immigrants make up 7 percent of all entrepreneurs in Ohio and contribute to key business and industries in the state including healthcare, manufacturing and tourism.

The conference was held at the steps of Cleveland City Hall at 11:00 am. Drawing on the data compiled by the Partnership for a New American Economy (PNAE), the event highlighted the many different ways immigrants have and continue to strengthen the local tax base, boost the economy through entrepreneurship, and fill workforce gaps in the region’s high-tech industry sector”. The speakers included: Doug Bugie (Global Cleveland Board Member), Kevin Kelley (Cleveland City Council President), Jeff Kipp (Director of Neighborhood Marketing for Cleveland Neighborhood Progress), Harlan Smith (Director of the Cleveland State University International Centre) and Kerry McCormack (Cleveland City Councilman, Ward 3).

According to the study, “immigrants comprised four percent of the state’s population in 2014, but Ohio’s foreign-born population generated a combined income of 15.6 billion, or 5.2 percent of all earnings in the state, and contributed $4.4 billion in tax revenue. Reporting on the event the Plain Dealer reported in an article the second day titled, “Immigrants’ Economic Impact Is Big” added, “Five things you should know about immigrants in Ohio: “Percentage of immigrants in Ohio is below the national average: The share of foreign-born immigrants in Ohio is 4 percent. That comes to 480,868 residents. Nationally, the figure is 13 percent. Immigrants are more likely to be entrepreneurs: The share of immigrants in Ohio who are entrepreneurs is 7 percent, even though they are only 4 percent of the population. Business owned by immigrants in Ohio generated nearly $532 million in business income in 2014, “The contributions of New Americans in Ohio” found. More than 122.400 Ohio workers are employed at companies owned by immigrants, according to the report. Immigrants help expand tax base: Immigrants in Ohio earned $15.6 billion in 2014, the report found. They paid $1.3 billion in state and local taxes and $3.1 billion in federal taxes. These wage earners contributed $421.0 million to Medicare and $1.5 billion to Social Security. Immigrants are more apt to be in the work force: The report released by Global Cleveland found that 57.4 percent of immigrants in Ohio were employed in 2014. Only 46.5 percent of the native-born population was employed. Part of the reason is that more immigrants are 25- to64-years-old, which puts them within the prime working-age population. Immigrants in Ohio are better educated than general population: Forty-three percent of foreign-born Ohioans have either a bachelor’s degree or graduate degree, the report found. Among the native-born population, only 25 percent fall into this category. “The majority of the top 10 occupations relying most heavily on foreign-born workers in Ohio are high-skilled fields,” the report states. “Immigrants make up 31.2 percent of workers in software developers for applications and systems software, as well as 28.5 percent of the state’s physicians and surgeons. They also account for almost one in 10 people working in the subset of engineering.”

Global Cleveland released the report Wednesday, August 3, 2016 during a news conference on the steps of Cleveland City Hall. “The future growth of the Cleveland economy will rely on innovation, entrepreneurship, and an ability to compete in a highly skilled global economy,” said Council President Kevin Kelly, one of the speakers. “For this reason, we need smart immigration policies to achieve continued growth in global markets. “we need Congress to take action on immigration reforms if we are to stay ahead of the curve on competition, innovation, and potential growth,” Kelly said.

Mr. Doug Bugie, President of Antal International Network, also spoke about the need to urge Congress push for immigration reforms. He encouraged people to come to Cleveland; “live and work, where they will find a welcoming community, city and a wonderful organization like Global Cleveland, taking great initiatives under the new leadership of Mr. Joe Cimperman.” Mr. Bougie also talked about the importance of “retaining foreign-born talents, especially F-1 visa/international students and cited a case of a South Korean graduate student at Case Western Reserve University, who was able to start her own company following her obtaining of Optional Practical Training , (OPT), her H-1B, (work Visa) and becoming a U.S. citizen. This is a great example, he added of retaining international talents. The success story of this international student illustrates the great need of having more productive and powerful Immigration Laws and Regulations to do more. Student/immigrant entrepreneur is now in charge of her own company and has created several jobs for U.S. workers.” Mr. Bugie ended his remarks by highlighting the great achievements of another immigrant entrepreneur, Ms. Radhika Reddy, who immigrated from India, started her own business, created her own company and employed over 10 employees; contributing to the wonderful revitalization of our city”.

Speaking on behalf of Cleveland State University’s International Student Department, Mr. Harlan Smith, Director of International Student Services also echoed the same sentiment of the great need for immigration reforms, and also the need to urge Congress to take the lead and push for similar reforms. Further, he talked about the “challenges facing international student at his institution and in Northeast Ohio in general. “F-1 visa students struggle to engage in employment, and the system is very complex to allow such employment. We need to help students obtain Optional Practical Training, (OPT) and work visa, leading to more productive outcomes so that those student would accomplish great things in the U.S. “

View the The Contributions of New Americans in Ohio Report

Written By: George Koussa

Margaret W. Wong & Associates, LLC