August 7, 2013
David Beal, MinnPost
When bipartisan federal legislation to overhaul the nation’s immigration system failed in 2007, Bob Fitch decided he’d seen enough. The solution, he believed, was to unite trade associations and provide cover for individual business owners who supported such legislation but hesitated to speak out for it.
Then the executive director of the Minnesota Landscape & Nursery Association, he joined forces with his counterpart at the Minnesota Agri-Growth Council, Daryn McBeth, to launch a coalition to campaign for an overhaul. Soon, the Minnesota Milk Producers Association climbed aboard. Then the state’s largest business association, the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, signed on. “That really was a huge turning point,” says Fitch.
Today, Fitch’s idea has become the Minnesota Business Immigration Coalition, which has broad buy-in and advocates for smart immigration growth in Minnesota. And because of its 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…
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