The Game of Immigrant Attraction
Like other states, North Carolina must attract immigrants. The state faces an aging population with slow growth. Many working adults leave for better opportunities. Such dilemma is common among rust belt states. The struggle to retain talents for North Carolina, is also shared by others. Prominent examples would be Detroit, Michigan or Cleveland, Ohio.
This game is real. Cities, counties and states will die slowly, like Cleveland Metropolitan area, if population loss continues. Lower population necessarily translates into lower demands in the region and slower growth for both population and jobs.
The key to breakthrough is to match the talents with the local needs. Such matching will rely on the region’s historical advantages. Northeastern Ohio still focuses on manufacturing and medical services. Detroit still relies much on the automobile-related activities. Likewise, North Carolina’s research triangle relies on industrial demands for high-end research.
As energy costs decline and overseas wages grow, mid-level manufacturing would return to the U.S. It is up to each state and county to attract investors and immigrants. Federal government had already hosted Select America summit to attract manufacturers to the U.S. Yet, cities must rely on themselves to create attractive conditions.
Legal immigrants benefit their new homes enormously. For instance, Erie County of New York State, for first time in decades, finally saw a stop in population decline, due to the increasing number of immigrants. Each region must stabilize its human capital base to remain competitive in a knowledge-based economy.
So far, few Americans appreciate immigrants helping America transition into a knowledge-based economy. Hopefully, the reality of developmental bottleneck will force changes to take place. There is no solution pleasing to everyone, but there are ones beneficial to most of the stake holders. There is still hope and let’s hold on to it.