National experts and Erie leaders discussed how immigration is playing a role on the area’s economy.
They met at the Burke Center on the campus of Penn St. Behrend as a part of the Economic Research Institute of Erie’s conference series. Wednesday focused on the impact immigration can play on the local economy.
They program was centered around providing information about immigration and the different roles that it provides to each area. The keynote speaker of the event was Dr. Pia Orrenius, Vice President and Senior Economist of Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
She told the audience that places such as Erie provide prime opportunities for entrepreneurship because of the declining population and need for new business.
“I think that smaller areas especially areas where population is declining or slowing are the areas that really reap some of the biggest benefits from immigration,” Orrenius said. “There’s going to be more access to credit, there may be a lower cost of living and the business transaction cost may be smaller so it may be more easier to try these opportunities.
Other officials from the area say that research on the topic shows benefits to areas that have higher immigration.
“Studies show have shown that when immigrants go to an area, the unemployment rates goes down and the employment rate goes up,” Gary Lee, director of administration in Erie County said.
Other areas that experts said immigration could benefit is that it could help in areas with declining population growth and the influx of immigrants could allow for more jobs due to new businesses. Experts also say that it can bring prices down because of more people in the area.
Dr. Ken Louie, director of Economic Research Institute of Erie said he wants con fences like these to serve as launching points for positive discussion on the topic.
“Instead, what we see is we want to educate the public and separate the facts from the fallacies,” Louie said.