DETROIT - Speaking at the event, “A Celebration of Immigrant Entrepreneurs” at the Compuware World Headquarters in downtown, Detroit City Council President Pro Tem Gary Brown highlighted the positive impact immigrants have on the economy.
Brown spoke before a large crowd at the gathering held in collaboration between Global Detroit and New Michigan Media. “Bringing immigrants into the city of Detroit is a good thing,” Brown said. He mentioned the thousands of Iraqis coming to the United States, and indicated that Detroit would benefit from attracting them into the region. “How do we attract immigrant entrepreneurs to come into the city of Detroit and do what we need most, create jobs,” Brown said.
According to Steve Tobocman of Global Detroit immigrants start businesses at three times the rate of non-immigrants. He said the immigrant and international communites have strengthened southeast Michigan with tremendous growth in businesses. “These businesses aren’t just creating jobs for immigrants, they’re creating thousands and thousands of jobs for all of us,” Tobocman said.
Brown is optimistic about the city’s future despite the recent census report about the major decline in population. He says the new population figure for Detroit is an opportunity. “We can still be a great city if it’s managed properly. The number one million represents the past, and we need to forget about the past and move forward,” Brown said. He stated that the only way jobs will be created in the city is through small businesses, entrepreneurship and immigration has a huge part to play in that.
Guests had the opportunity to network with immigrant entrepreneurs including Itai Ben-Gal, CEO of iRule, LLC who shared his success story. Ben-Gal’s company started out as a basement project, and is expected to make $1 million in 2012.
New Michigan Media founding director Hayg Oshagan discussed a NMM project in collaboration with the five largest ethnic newspapers in the state.
The papers are each publishing three articles a month about immigrant and minority business success stories in southeast Michigan. The papers include The Arab American News, The Jewish News, The Michigan Korean Weekly, The Latino Press, The Michigan Chronicle and can be viewed on www.semichiganstartup.com.
“The view and the sense of what’s happening in Detroit begins to change and the narrative of this place begins to look brighter to people,” Oshagan said.