Monday, May 22, 2000
Raising Number of H-1B Visas is Critical for Michigan’s Economic FutureThe Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) executive committee announced their support of the American Competitiveness in the 21st Century Act today. The act, co-sponsored by Sen. Spence Abraham, R-Michigan, will lift the number of H-1B visas from 115,000 to 195,000 per year for three years. These visas are available to foreign nationals who hold at least a U.S. bachelor’s degree or the equivalent. "As a foreign-born professional, I have capitalized on my skills and U.S. business opportunities and founded ASC, Inc. Today, ASC is the flagship of a diversified company with more than 5,000 American employment opportunities," said Heinz Prechter, Michigan Economic Development Corporation board member and chairman and CEO of ASC, Inc. "This act will give foreign-born entrepreneurs, like myself, the chance to use their skills to bolster our national and local economies. I have never taken a single job from American workers but have given thousands to Americans, strengthening the economy of our state and country."The act also will exempt higher educational institutions, research institutions and foreign students graduating from the U.S. with a master’s or PhD degree from the H-1B cap. "Increasing the number of H-1B visas will ensure that Michigan businesses have the workers they need to fill their vacant high-tech positions," said Facundo del Valle Bravo, Michigan Economic Development Corporation board member and president and CEO of Uni-Boring, Inc. "Despite our intensive efforts to boost the Michigan’s high-tech workforce, the economy is creating skills and demands that education and industry training alone cannot satisfy in the short term."The Department of Labor’s figures show that the U.S. economy will produce more than 130,000 information technology jobs in each of the next 10 years, for a total of 1.3 million. However, U.S. universities are expected to produce less than a quarter of the necessary number of information technology graduates over the next 10 years. In particular, Michigan’s businesses are experiencing an increased demand for high-tech workers. To help alleviate this demand, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation recently announced a plan to dedicate their entire advertising budget to recruiting high-tech workers. The act also specifies that the additional $450 million raised over three years from the H-1B visa fees will be used for training and scholarships for U.S. worker. About 40,000 scholarships will be created from the increased revenue."The act may help stop a newly prevalent trend of Michigan companies stealing workers from other local companies and companies moving their operations elsewhere in order to find skilled workers," said Prechter. "However, elevating the number H-1B visas is just a temporary fix. The scholarships address the long term plan to nurture and bolster our own high-tech talent."The Michigan Economic Development Corporation works in partnership with local communities and Michigan businesses to retain and expand job opportunities and improve Michigan’s overall business climate. For more information, on the Michigan Economic Development Corporation’s initiatives and programs, visit the website at www.michigan.org.