Bob Miano's Blog

An Executive journal

Throwing Money & Opportunity across Our Borders

Where will American businesses go when they can no longer bring the skilled global workers they need here to work? This month, Microsoft provided us with one possible answer: Canada.

In early July, Microsoft announced that by the fall of 2007 it will have opened a software development center in Vancouver, Canada, which is less than 150 miles from its global headquarters in Redmond, Washington. It’s close to Microsoft and close to the U.S. But, it is still on the other side of the border, which puts the U.S. on the losing side of this opportunity.

As Deborah Perelman explains in her eWeek article, “Uh-O Canada: The Newest Nearshore Threat?” one of the key reasons for the move was frustrations with the numerous challenges in bringing skilled global talent to work in the U.S. So instead, Microsoft, one of the crown jewels of American innovation and leadership today, is opening a Canadian location designed to be a beacon for the world’s leading technology talent.

It confounds us all in the IT industry that the U.S. government does not see the losses piling up by complicating and impeding the process of bringing skilled, educated foreign workers into the U.S. Let’s not forget the fact that the U.S. is educating thousands upon thousands of foreign professionals every year at colleges and universities nationwide. Nevertheless, we make it next-to-impossible for the majority of them to stay here and use their education to further enrich American businesses and the American economy.

When American businesses are forced to go offshore, whether it’s just a few miles across our borders or thousands of miles away, innovation and tax revenues are walking out the door along with them. By allowing skilled foreign workers to come into the U.S. to help American companies grow and build, we are investing in the U.S. We are making American businesses, and therefore, America, stronger. The more limits we put on how much innovation can enter our borders, the more American innovators will seek friendlier and more sensible shores.