10 Reasons You Should Recognize the Value of Immigrants if you Live in Union County

1.  This area was settled by immigrants.  
We are all immigrants, anyway.  Not just in the abstract, distant past, but in a real, current way.  I'm only in my thirties, but can remember very well that German worship services were offered here not long ago.  It's not unusual to hear people talk about the German settlement in everyday conversation.  If you're new to town, ask someone to share with you some of the surnames of people in your building or neighborhood that are part of those families, and likely related to hundreds of other people.

2.  Our local industry has strong ties to who we are as immigrants.
Know a dairy farmer?  Do they have one of those German surnames I mentioned above?  Whether they do or not, they're part of a long tradition of dairy farming that goes all the way back to Germany.  These cattle are much more important than they might seem at first, read on.

3.  The cattle here are world class.  
Centuries of good farming practices and intelligent breeding pay off.  In fact, Select Sires is a preeminent supplier on the world stage for cow genetic material.  Strains from their named bulls can fetch thousands of dollars and are shipped around the world.  Select is a large, and well-respected employer here.  It is not a coincidence that a premier supplier in the cattle industry is located in an area settled by an immigrant population that tended to have cattle.

4.  Cows= milk= Beverage Center of the World.  
All those cows means lots of milk to be collected and shipped to consumers.  That originally meant that Wildi's Milk was an important part of our local economy.  What was once a milk plant, later led to freeze-drying for powdered milk that could be stored longer and shipped farther. Today, Nestle conducts large scale Research and Development here at their Product Technology Center, on the site of the former Wildi's Milk Plant.  Instant coffee was invented here, and as it grows again in popularity recently, continues to be tweaked and innovated.  Ever think about who comes up with all the iterations of iced tea drinks we buy in convenience stores today?  Likely, it was a research scientist here in Marysville.  Not only is Nestle a Swiss company, but as an international leader in food and drink, they employ the best and the brightest they can find and bring them here.  I've personally known Canadian chocolatiers and South African tea experts who work for Nestle.  Many of these scientists fill PhD level positions.

5.  Immigrant Work Ethic is not a Stereotype.  
When the Japanese automaker, Honda started looking for sites to build its manufacturing facility, they were immediately intrigued by Union County, Ohio.  They needed a large tract of land, access to infrastructure, and a central location proximate to their customers.  They found those things here, as well as several other places in the Midwest.  What set our area apart were the people, though.  The Japanese recognized a determination in the workforce here to get the job done with pride, cooperation, and integrity.  What started as a single manufacturing facility, has grown to multiple plants, dozens of suppliers, and over ten thousand local jobs.  Today, Honda is restructuring and consolidating its North American leadership functions to Marysville, Ohio.

6.  You already know, live near, and do business with lots of immigrant families.  
I find that lots of people who are "anti-immigration" in a general sense, make exception for the people they actually know in immigrant families.  Here's the thing, if you live in Marysville, Ohio, you probably know LOTS of immigrant families.  They're not always drastically different in language or appearance, so you probably don't think about it.  I started to make a list of some examples I know, and had to quit.  There are people from several countries on my street, at my church, in businesses in and around Marysville, at church, and in social activities were involved in.  We lease apartments at work, and have leased to Canadians, Italians, Japanese, Indians, English, and others.  

7.  Our Community Proves the Value of Immigrants
I read lots of statistics that I'm not sure most Americans agree with, even if they are statistically true.  Things like, "immigrants raise wages for all workers," "new immigrants are less likely to commit crimes than natives," and "immigrants are most likely to invest in their communities entrepreneurially."  Too often we question studies that suggest these outcomes, and ignore the results in our own lives.  The next time you read about a positive impact immigrants have on a community,  ask yourself it that is true in Marysville, Ohio.  I think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

8.  There IS Room.
We don't voice it, but we think it: new immigrants will crowd out opportunities for me and my family.  Jealousy is a part of human nature, and there is nothing I can say that will change that.  However, consider again Marysville, Ohio.  Our community has tripled in size in my lifetime.  during that time, quality of life has improved for almost everyone here.  We have lots of great jobs, the best long-term wage growth in the State, ample housing, nice parks, outstanding schools, and still have maintained an authentic spirit of community.  Predicting all these things thirty years ago would have been perceived as overly optimistic, but they happened.  Our community will triple in size again in my lifetime  maybe even quicker than the last time.  At this point in time, though, we are at an even better starting point, with lots of positives going for us already.  There is absolutely no reason not to assume that we can accommodate the new growth, and that immigrants will make up an important part of the new people to our community.

9.  If not here, where?  
As Americans, we're proud of our "superpower" status.  We lead the world in lots of ways.  In a very real way, our fear of immigrants will hurt us if we let it.  Did you know that Facebook has opened up a new office in Canada, due north of its American operations, specifically to house multi-national workers who can obtain a Canadian visa, but not an American one?  In Ohio, we should be especially sensitive to this.  We talk about the auto industry like it only exists here, but are too often ignorant of the large industry two hours north in Ontario.  If we want to recruit a world-class workforce, then we need to find a way to welcome them. Two hours drive, whether in Seattle or Marysville, is a small price to pay for access to talent.

10.  As Christians, we are Obliged to.
I've written this from a common-sense perspective, and am intentionally not trying to make a public-policy argument, an economic argument, or even a Biblical argument   To be clear though, I am a Christian.  In the context of our community, there are about 80 churches or houses of worship in Union County, so chances are, if you're reading this as a part of our community you are too.  The Bible is filled with stories of migrant, immigrant families and nations.  Throughout, we are reminded to welcome immigrants in our own lands.  As Americans, we are quick to reach out and support foreigners where they live, but honestly could do more to welcome them here.

I'd encouraged you to consider the net impact of your relationships with immigrants.  Are many of these people your friends?  Rather than believing the fear and paranoia we are inundated with on television and in social media, stop and consider your own experiences.  Living here in Marysville, Ohio, I'm fortunate to know and have friendships with so many people from many nations; I'm thankful they are here, and I'm hopeful we can both welcome them permanently, and extend that welcome to others.


  1. John, what a great post and I will admit all your posts on immigration have opened my heart as well as my eyes.

    an Immigrant from NE Ohio to Central Ohio,
    To Union County from Stark County
    To Marysville (Paris Twp) from Massillon (Tuscarawas Twp)

  2. Thanks Brian, I appreciate knowing that a fresh perspective has been helpful. Marrying an immigrant has definitely changed my way of looking at things! I like your thought at the end as well- we're all from somewhere else.