Des Moines Conference to Empower Immigrant Entrepreneurs

Iowa Governor Terry Brandstad will be the keynote speaker at the Immigrant Entrepreneurs Summit scheduled to take place on the Drake University campus in Des Moines on November 12.

The fourth annual summit is expected to attract about 700 participants from 40 countries, who will attend speeches and seminars on 15 topics related to starting and growing a business in the United States, the Des Moines Register reported.

Summit founder Ying Sa, owner of a Des Moines-based accounting firm, told the paper that equipping immigrants with the knowledge needed to start businesses can help spur economic growth. She pointed out that the conference’s seminars, such as “How to Turn a Business Idea into a Green Card,” address practical issues, including how to fill out immigration forms related to business matters.

Sa told the Register the young conference already seems to have made a positive contribution to the state’s economy, as 125 Iowa businesses were started by first-generation immigrants in the year after the first conference in 2008.

At this year’s conference, speakers and panelists will address a variety of topics, including the EB-5 foreign investor green card program, L-1 intra-company transfer visas and E-2 non-immigrant investor visas.

Another Iowa community is also taking steps to improve its services to immigrant residents. In September, the city council of Iowa City reviewed Human Rights Commission recommendations for how to make the city friendlier to immigrants. Iowa City is poised to enact these recommendations, including improving immigrant access to municipal services and clarifying what identification law enforcement officers can ask residents to furnish in various situations, such as during a traffic stop.

According to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services agency, 2,198 immigrants were naturalized in Iowa in 2009, up from 1, 465 in 2002.