Most stories about Detroit start off the same; hurting economy, distressed housing market, and a significant decrease in population. However, contrary to the headlines, people all over the world are flocking to Detroit, in hopes for a better tomorrow.
An influx in immigrants started piling into the city, as everyone else moved their way out. With a diverse mix of cultures in the city limits of Detroit, Michigan has looked to these new minds as a way to reinvent what it means to be from Detroit.
Why Are People Choosing Detroit?
During the 20th century, Detroit’s international culture grew tremendously. Millions of people, mostly all originally foreign to the United States, came to Detroit during the auto industry boom. While the immigrant rate of today is still lower than the national average of 13%, the city and suburbs of Detroit are still thriving with immigrants that have held onto there roots.
Where Did The Immigrants Come From?
The immigrants living in Detroit today are of Polish, German, African, Irish, Asian, Arabic, or Italian decent. Nearly half of these individuals have earned at least an undergraduate degree, which is twice the number of the native population. Over 60% of these immigrants also own their own homes, are married, and make an annual income of more than $75,000. Out of the immigrants who arrived prior to 1990, more than 75% have become naturalized citizens, displaying the strong urge to remain in the United States and have a say in the Detroit’s success.
What Are These Immigrants Doing In Detroit?
In order to continue attracting more global investors and foreign entrepreneurs, state Representative Staven Tobocman started Global Detroit, a non-profit that seeks to help out immigrants and foreign investors in the Michigan market. Through their 12 week intensive courses, immigrants and native born residents can both learn entrepreneurial skills, business planning, and financial management. Tobocman has explained that while Michigan residents complain about the lack of jobs, they have also noticed the correlation to those who are employed and have remained loyal to Metro Detroit. Tobocman states, “The biggest beneficiaries of immigration are the long-term residents of the neighborhoods.”
The entrepreneurial mindset of these immigrants is vivid. Over a third of the IT and tech firms created from 1995 in Michigan have been jumpstarted by immigrants. Those immigrants who are looking for work in Michigan, have found that their skills allow them to get hired three times faster than the native born citizen. Global Detroit has also been a leader in providing small business loans to technology based companies that are housed in Detroit.
The goal of organizations, such as Global Detroit, is to help ease immigrants into the Detroit lifestyle and customs. By making them active members of the community, these incredibly skilled and dedicated individuals can become long term residents, benefiting the city of Detroit for years to come.