Dayton’s Immigration Initiative: “Welcome Dayton”

The city of Dayton Ohio has put together a 72 point plan, called Welcome Dayton, for encouraging immigrants to move here, live here, settle here, contribute to the growth of our community. Personally, I think it’s a great idea for a lot of reasons, but mostly because this country was built by immigrants. Our history is of immigrants coming here and beginning new lives in this land of endless opportunity. But this is 2011 and not everyone agrees with me. Dayton’s immigration initiative has met with some controversy. From WBEZ.org:

Steven Camarota, research director at the Center for Immigration Studies, a Washington group that pushes for strict immigration controls, acknowledges that attracting immigrants would increase the size of Dayton’s economy. “But that’s different than arguing that there’s a benefit,” he says. “Growing an area’s gross domestic product, but not the per capita GDP, doesn’t mean anything. It wouldn’t be very helpful. In fact, there might be problems with that.”

Camarota says the low-skilled immigrants would put downward pressure on wages for workers on Dayton’s bottom rungs.

But Italian-born economist Giovanni Peri of the University of California, Davis, says low-skilled immigrants would bring what Dayton seeks—and more. “One, they will increase the variety of local restaurants, local shops. Second they will provide a variety of local services, such as household services, care of the children, of the elderly. Third, they will also develop and bring an atmosphere of diversity and higher tolerance.”

Peri says these low-skilled contributions would all help Dayton attract immigrants with more resources. The willingness of the uneducated immigrants to perform manual labor for the going rate, he adds, could create jobs for longtime residents. Peri points to landscaping companies: “They will need people who mow the lawn but also they will need accountants, salespersons, a manager and drivers.”

Dayton’s approach—welcoming immigrants with and without skills—is the “optimal strategy,” Peri says.

Time will tell whether this helps Dayton Ohio, but I think it’s an exciting time for the city.

Dayton has partnered with many community organizations into the East End and Third Street Corridor area in particular, an area that is ripe for revitalization right now.  What do homes sell for in that area? This home is currently listed at $7,000. Immigrants, investors, urban pioneers- Welcom to Dayton! Want to see what else is available in this area? Let’s take a look!

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