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Colleges: International Students Key to Michigan's Economic Growth

DETROIT -- Fast-paced economic growth in the health care, computer and engineering sectors, coupled with a shortage of domestic students graduating with degrees in the high-demand science, technology, engineering and math fields, has created a significant percentage of jobs in Michigan that employers are unable to fill, threatening further economic growth and their ability to compete.

The Global Talent Retention Initiative of Southeast Michigan, funded by the New Economy Initiative, is working to help fill that gap.

"Employers need help fast filling these jobs or they stand to lose billions of dollars in new business," said Athena Trentin, GTRI program director with the University Research Corridor, the joint effort of Michigan State University, the University of Michigan and Wayne State University. "So we're launching an aggressive new effort to help Michigan-based companies fill these jobs with talented engineers from overseas. We think this effort will pay for itself immediately because these employers will have the talent they need to win new contracts and immediately contribute to the Michigan tax base with improved profits and income tax generation."

One of GTRI's key initiatives is a series of joint career conferences hosted by the three URC-associated institutions and four partner institutions (Eastern Michigan University, Lawrence Technological University, Oakland University, and the University of Michigan - Dearborn) to entice foreign-born students to stay in Michigan to live and work, help connect them with immigration-friendly employers and prepare them for the cultural nuances unique to their job search in Michigan. GTRI also provides employer education seminars to help address their immigration, taxation, and cultural concerns when hiring a foreign national.

"Michigan's resurgence is dependent upon in large part to having the best talent, innovators and job creators that will help grow our economy, said Tel Ganesan, CEO of Kyyba Inc. and panelist at GTRI's first career conference." "The fact that there just aren't enough American-born students earning degrees in the STEM fields means that there is a significant mismatch between degrees granted and available jobs. Programs such as GTRI's are critically important for connecting businesses with the talent they need to grow and remain globally competitive."

The next career conference, co-sponsored by Wayne State University and UM-Dearborn, will be held on Friday, March 23 on the WSU campus. GTRI's first career conference was held at UM-Ann Arbor for international students at UM and Eastern Michigan University. Over 100 students attended the conference and 25 percent of them say that they are now more likely to make Michigan their preferred career destination after graduation.

For more information on the GTRI and the conference, go to

The GTRI is a product of the Global Detroit Study about the impact of immigrant talent on the region's economy. In collaboration with seven partner universities, the American Immigration Lawyers Association, Michigan's economic development agencies, and ethnic chambers and organizations in Southeast Michigan, GTRI provides international students and local employers with training and resources on relevant immigration regulations, finding a job and working in the Detroit area, and many cross-cultural issues that both employers and international applicants may experience during the hiring process.

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