While it may at times appear that the University is virtually overflowing with students with advanced degrees, it’s not a fair representation of the state as a whole. As part of his plan to rebuild Michigan’s economy, Republican Gov. Rick Snyder has called for a statewide initiative that would encourage foreign-born citizens with advanced college degrees to bring their ideas and businesses to Michigan. This proposal is an important step toward reinventing the state’s economy and bringing new, innovative minds to Michigan. In an effort to combat the so-called “brain drain” of Michigan, state legislators should support this initiative and help make it a success.

According to the 2010 U.S. Census, Michigan had the largest number of residents leave compared to other states. In his recent State of the State address, Snyder urged state officials to support this foreign-born entrepreneurial incentive program. The program will help solve the problems of both the decreasing population and the extremely high unemployment rate that plagues Michigan. Snyder claims that this initiative will boost high-tech industrial jobs in Michigan — an economic sector that the state is currently lacking.

The problem of losing highly educated, foreign-born people isn’t exclusive to the state of Michigan, but rather a nation wide issue. As stated in his State of the Union address, President Barack Obama plans on encouraging foreign-born students to stay in America and start businesses. As a nation and a state, we need to work to retain students with an advanced degree, so when they complete their education we don’t lose these bright and innovative minds. One of the biggest problems facing Michigan’s economy is the lack of entrepreneurs and new businesses, and this initiative can combat that issue by retaining the people that can help create jobs throughout the state.

It’s a common misconception that foreign-born workers take away jobs from deserving Michiganders. This ideology is incorrect. The concept behind Snyder’s proposal is to create new businesses whose growth and development will help strengthen the state’s economy. Snyder’s initiative would encourage startup high-tech industries, thus creating countless jobs that could potentially one day replace the jobs lost from the decline of the auto industry. This program would create new sectors and begin diversifying the state economy in a way that it desperately needs in order to foster growth.

According to a Jan. 20 Detroit Free Press article, the state of Michigan has more than 23,000 foreign-born students that are currently earning their advanced degrees, and many of them are studying here at the University. It’s important that these people stay in Michigan after they graduate, and Snyder’s initiative could help make that happen. Both Detroit and Ann Arbor have experimented with similar programs called Global Detroit and the Cultural Ambassadors in Ann Arbor, and in both cases, the systems have generated economic growth. This program has shown success in Ann Arbor and would undeniably show similar results if implemented statewide.

State officials should adopt Snyder’s initiative to encourage foreign-born graduates with advanced degrees to start businesses in Michigan.

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