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Nashville Companies join Partnership for a New American Economy Initiative

Companies based in Nashville are making the case for immigration reform on the grounds that it is the smart move to facilitate business. They are advocating on behalf of the Partnership for a New American Economy (PNAE), the initiative spearheaded by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Similarly, they are pushing for more temporary work visas, a new entrepreneurial visa and green cards for U.S. college graduates in high-tech fields. The Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce and Mayor Karl Dean have enthusiastically signed on as members. For a while now, one field that has been heavily affected by the shortage in human capital is that of healthcare services providers. Nashville-based HCA has trouble finding experienced nurses, even with unemployment at nine percent. In recent years, John Steele says the hospital chain has turned to international recruiting, but that has been brought to a near halt because of a visa shortage. “We still have a thousand nurses in the Philippines and India and a thousand openings here in the United States. So the math looks pretty straight forward on the surface for us,” said John Steele who is the senior vice president of human resources at HCA.

Because of the limitation of the U.S. immigration system, companies have to restrict their business. As an example, Gaylord Entertainment is a company that must limit its international marketing to only Europeans because they can visit the U.S. with relative ease. CEO Colin Reed says there’s untapped potential for business opportunities in China and Brazil, but entrepreneurs are limited by restrictions related to our country’s immigration system. As a result, “we don’t, as a company, go to those markets to market [our business] because the pearl’s not worth the dive. It’s just very, very difficult, ” said Mr. Reed, adding that easing travel restrictions is the company’s primary interest in immigration reform. With the future of our economy in the balance, more and more of the nation’s business leaders are standing up for immigration reform. What is your stand?

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