In an in-depth August cover story, Twin Cities Business examined the ongoing immigration reform debate, pointing out that business groups have, often behind the scenes, been championing immigration reform, because the state’s labor pool relies on it.
A key player in the push for smart reform is a group called the Minnesota Business Immigration Coalition—which counts among its members the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce and other business groups, such as the Minnesota Restaurant Association and the Minnesota Agri-Growth Council.
Because of the group’s efforts, hundreds of Minnesota businesses now back the push to modernize federal immigration laws. Their message: Without more immigrants, Minnesota’s labor force will fall short of the workers it will need, at both the higher and lower ends of the skills spectrum, as baby boomers retire.
In a recent interview with the Star Tribune, a Minnesota Chamber of Commerce official reiterated his organization’s stance that new arrivals are essential to fill jobs.
Bill Blazar, the second-in-command at the Minnesota Chamber, even recently wrote a joint op-ed with leadership from the AFL-CIO—a group whose interests are often in contrast to the Chamber’s.
When asked what he’s been hearing from Minnesota businesses, Blazar told the Star Tribune the following:
“When Minnesota companies have difficulties filling their openings, that frustration makes them more sensitive to some of the other challenges of doing business in Minnesota. Then they start scratching their heads and saying, ‘Why am I paying some of the higher taxes in the country?’ It sort of brings to the surface some of the other warts on our state’s economic environment. That workforce is really our big, big, big selling point. You look at our demographics. We’ve got an aging population, and the rate of growth in the workforce declines until 2030. Their challenge of finding workers is going to be with us for the next 15 years, which puts some urgency on having a functional immigration system.”
For Blazar’s complete Q&A with the Minneapolis newspaper, click here. Read TCB’s in-depth examination of the immigration subject here.
Last week, the head of a Minnesota union, as well as a U.S. Congressman from the state, was among those arrested during a demonstration to push for legislative action on immigration reform.