Business News

Spanish-Language Workshop Hopes to Foster Immigrant Entrepreneurship in Cincinnati

The Cincinnati region struggles with attracting immigrants, even when compared with other nearby metros like Cleveland, Indianapolis or Louisville. X-LINK, an initiative from the Williams College of Business at Xavier University, has launched a program that its organizers hope will be a small step toward fixing that problem.

In partnership with the Cincinnati Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and the Greater Cincinnati Independent Business Alliance, Xavier University is starting LaunchCincy Juntos, a series of entrepreneurship workshops in Spanish (“Juntos” is the Spanish word for “together” or “united”) aimed at helping immigrants foster their ideas for starting a new business.

The group has organized four workshops to-date, with three having already taken place. Two were held in Price Hill and the third was held in Madisonville. The fourth planned workshop will take place in Norwood on June 14, and organizers say that more will follow suit.

Translated from English to Spanish by three undergraduates at Xavier University – Gali Zummar, Ronal Vieira, and Laura Forero – the first of these four workshops lit the flame for certain business ideas, and attendees were given specific assignments to develop their ideas further before their next class.

Noting that immigrants are more than twice as likely to start a business as native-born Americans, and currently lead the nation in terms of business creation, Xavier University and its partners say they want to reach out to the Latino community in Cincinnati to help create a better environment for Spanish-speakers to get their ideas onto paper and, hopefully, into business.

With immigration from Spanish-speaking nations maintaining its steady flow into the United States, Spanish is increasingly important for every aspect of American society, including business.

One example where Cincinnati’s struggles became quite clear was the relocation of Chiquita’s headquarters in November 2011. In addition to poor air service, Chiquita management cited the lack of Spanish-speaking professionals in the region as compared to Charlotte.

“Only 5% of the population speaks another language, which is very low, however 5% of two million is 100,000 people,” Alfonso Cornejo, President of the Cincinnati Hispanic Chamber, exclaimed during Episode 18 of The UrbanCincy Podcast when describing a new initiative focused on addressing this issue called Cincy Bilingual Talent. “If you can capture 3% of those 5% of them, then we’ll have thousands of people in the system who speak a lot of languages.”

X-Link plans to expand their Spanish-speaking program into Carthage this fall, in partnership with the Catholic Charities of Southwest Ohio and Su Casa Hispanic Ministries.

Business News Politics

Comprehensive Study Needed to Examine Cincinnati’s Migration Problem

Cincinnati has a problem with attracting immigrants.

While it is the largest metropolitan region in Ohio, Cincinnati lags behind both Cleveland and Columbus in attracting foreign migrants. Even as Cleveland continues to lose population and struggles with a weak economy, Cincinnati, with its much stronger economy and national recognition, attracts fewer of America’s newest residents.

More alarmingly, at 4.6%, Cincinnati ranks behind all of its regional competitors (Columbus, Indianapolis, Louisville, Pittsburgh, St. Louis) in percentage of foreign-born population. Columbus (10.5%) and Indianapolis (8.4%) have double or nearly-double the percentage of foreign born population. Cincinnati only bests Pittsburgh and Louisville in terms of attracting immigrants over the past three years.

International Migration 2010-2013

The United States as a whole continues to attract millions of new immigrants. They’re just not coming to Cincinnati at the same rate as elsewhere.

Mayor John Cranley’s (D) recent announcement to start an initiative to grow the immigrant population in Cincinnati is a welcome one. With statistics showing that immigrants are more likely than non-immigrant Americans to start a business, a flux of foreign residents would be good for Cincinnati’s economy in more than one way.

Cranley is not unique among mayors in cities across the nation that have suffered massive population losses since the 1950s. From Baltimore and Philadelphia, to Detroit and Dayton, cities across the country are now targeting immigrant communities in order to help bolster populations and foster economic growth.

Preferably, Cincinnati’s quest to attract new immigrants will be part of a larger plan to attract new residents, period. While lagging behind in attracting immigrants, the region also continues to shed existing residents to other parts of the country.

International - Domestic Migration in 2013

Local leaders should authorize a comprehensive study to find out why Cincinnati struggles so greatly with attracting domestic and international migrants. With a growing economy and incredible regional assets, there is no reason why Cincinnati should fail so miserably at attracting new people.

It may prove wise to set city funds aside to create some sort of media blitz that touts the benefits of the city and the surrounding region. With a recent Gallup poll showing that 138 million people around the world would choose to move to the United States if given the opportunity, the market for new immigrants is surely present. Some sort of economic incentive would help as well. Tax breaks for immigrant businesses and incentives to live within city limits will help attract immigrants of all economic levels.

It is not a stretch to imagine that Columbus’ ability to attract and retain so many more immigrants than Cincinnati is due to the presence of Ohio State University, one of the nation’s most prominent public universities. As a result, Cranley should take heed and foster greater cooperation between the City of Cincinnati and the University of Cincinnati and Xavier University, using those nationally-recognized institutions to attract even more newcomers.

At the end of the day, however, immigration is a national issue. For that reason, regional leadership should be in active dialogue with Cincinnati’s Congressional delegation and lobby them to support immigration reform and initiatives that will help attract immigrants not just to the U.S. in general, but to the Cincinnati region specifically.

News Politics

Council Candidates Talk Urbanism at Forum

This past Wednesday we collaborated with the Niehoff Studio to host our first Urbanists Council Candidates Forum. The event drew a large group of young professionals and university students as 10 City Council candidates answered several questions about urban design, immigration, transportation and land use policy.

The first question outside of general introductions involved the candidates stance on immigration and what the city could do to attract new populations. These issues had been discussed before in our podcast on immigration. In general the candidates deferred to national policy including the immigration however some candidates pushed for an effort to increase bilingual signage.

The second question asked candidates about updating the regional mass transit plan. The plan, commonly known as MetroMoves, went to a vote in 2002 for funding through a sales tax increase. The tax failed that year and plans moved forward for the streetcar portion of the plan since the tax was widely supported within the city limits.

Video by Andrew Stalhke for UrbanCincy and Niehoff Urban Studio.

Candidates took the opportunity to use the question to elaborate on their positions regarding the streetcar. Candidate Greg Landsman (D)  reiterated his views on the streetcar from the op-ed published on UrbanCincy a few months ago, and mentioned that both an extension of the streetcar and the implementation of a regional transit system will require support from the private sector. P.G. Sittenfeld (D) said he would support a larger plan than the current system being constructed.

Candidate Melissa Wegman (R) responded by calling for more road connections to the west side and better highways. Councilmember Laure Quinlivan (D), meanwhile, called for the development of a comprehensive multi-modal system that includes more bicycle infrastructure.

The remaining candidates were asked about upgrading Union Terminal for inter-city passenger rail service. Councilman Wendell Young (D) provided a very in-depth response citing the conditions of the terminal and the freight companies that would need to be engaged in the discussion.

Three audience members also asked questions ranging from metro government, public safety to developing a sense of community.

Attendees said they came away feeling more informed about making decisions about candidates.

“I’m encouraged that public transportation has become a pivotal point for a lot of the candidates and I am encouraged by a lot of their answers,” AJ Knee, a UC student pursuing his Masters Degree with the School of Planning told UrbanCincy, “It was very helpful to have this kind of community engagement.”

It has long been a priority of UrbanCincy to better engage young people in the public policy discussions affecting their future. The large, predominately young turnout in Corryville is evidence that young people are becoming increasingly involved. For the 10 candidates that participated in our first Urbanist Council Candidates Forum last week, let’s hope your message resonated with those young urbanist voters.

Up To Speed

Immigration Can Stabilize City Housing Market

Immigration Can Stabilize City Housing Market

As immigration reform is discussed on the national level, several cities have taken the lead in accepting more immigrants. This has led to an influx of population which have stabilized housing markets in several cities. A few months ago we discussed this issue on the UrbanCincy podcast and examined how the issue is affecting Cincinnati.  More from the Atlantic Cities:

Broadly, this implies that immigrants help boost housing markets, in much the same way that they’ve been shown in the past to shore up aging populations where large numbers of workers are retiring out of the workforce. And they’ve had the greatest impact boosting the housing market in areas that could use it most – specifically, in shrinking Rust Belt cities, or in the deteriorating neighborhoods of major metropolitan areas where it’s elsewhere unaffordable to live.