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Monday, February 13, 2006

Wise Words on Immigrants From an MSM Columnist

Tannette Johnson-Elie writes about small and minority owned business issues for The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel and her recent column focusing on immigrants building businesses in the 'hood is full of good sense and blunt wisdom.

For example, ever wonder why so many cleaners, neighborhood groceries and convenience stores in the inner city are owned and operated by immigrants? Johnson-Elie has the answer:

"How many of us have driven through blighted inner-city neighborhoods and shaken our heads in disgust as we passed the dilapidated houses, the abandoned storefronts and vacant lots that glisten with broken glass? Immigrants see a goldmine where we see hopelessness."

The reason they see goldmines is because they are ready to make the commitment to the hard work, perseverance against the odds and personal sacrifices required to create a successful business, regardless where it is located.

There is abundant evidence, according to Johnson-Elie, that all of us benefit when such businesses succeed:

"New research by Michael E. Porter, a Harvard Business School professor and founder of the economic development think tank, Initiative for a Competitive Inner City, has found that inner cities with the greatest job growth count immigrants as nearly a third of their populations. Conversely, inner cities with low percentages of immigrants are losing jobs.

"Porter's research, along with other recent studies, show that immigrants bring something you can't get from a government program: work ethic and job-creation skills, and ambition coupled with the resolve to make the most of the investment others have made in them."

After you read go here to the rest of Johnson-Elie's column, go here for her news feature that puts human faces on the statistics behind the success of immigrant-owned businesses in the innery city.

Now, how long before Johnson-Elie gets a bigger audience in the MSM?

Thanks to LaShawn Barber for bringing Johnson-Elie to my attention. Which brings me to the last and most important point in this post. LaShawn offers a wonderful meditation in response to the issues raised by Johnson-Elie. This is a must-read.