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Weekly report featuring Dayton, Jersey, Italy and refugees

America’s Rust Belt. Old industrial towns in the north of England. France’s northern Hauts de France region. Eastern Germany. The places that have suffered from industrial decline in recent decades often focus their anger on immigrants. But what if newcomers could actually help regenerate such areas?

After its economy suffered and its population slumped, the city of Dayton, Ohio has put that theory to the test. Its innovative “Welcome Dayton: Immigrant-Friendly City” programme is a partnership between public authorities and the private sector to attract immigrants and help them settle in. And it is yielding big results. There has been a big inflow of immigrants in recent years – and of capital investment too. Better still, many of the immigrants are starting businesses of their own.

Dayton is surely a model for other depressed communities to emulate. Read Jack Graham’s excellent piece for OPEN to find out more.

The UK government spent last year urging the EU27 to start discussing their post-Brexit trading relationship. But now that the negotiations are finally due to move on to trade, ministers cannot decide what they want.

Some are suggesting that Britain should remain in a customs union with the EU as a half-way house between single-market membership and a simple free-trade agreement. But that wouldn’t avert the introduction of customs controls at Dover or in Ireland.

Philippe Legrain has a better idea. If, wrongly and harmfully, the UK insists on controlling EU migration after Brexit, the least-bad option for the future trading relationship may be the Jersey model: remaining in a customs union and, in effect, a single market in goods.

Read his piece for CapX here, which was picked up by the Financial Times‘ Brexit Briefing and Brussels Briefing.


If a Muslim man had opened fire on Italians shouting Islamist slogans, he would rightly have been called a terrorist. Yet when Luca Traini recently shot six African immigrants wrapped in an Italian tricolour – and performed a fascist salute and screamed “Viva l’Italia” when arrested – he was dismissed as a “madman”.

Traini had previously been a candidate for the far-right Northern League. Responding to the attack, its leader, Matteo Salvini, who may be in government after the Italian elections on 4th March, actually blamed immigrants themselves for causing social strife.

Other politicians who should know better urged people to “Keep quiet so as to avoid it being exploited.”

Read this blistering piece in the Guardian by Roberto Saviano, the author of Gomorrah: Italy’s Other Mafia, who says even many mainstream politicians won’t speak out about the violence in order to avoid offending xenophobic voters.

On a more cheerful note, six West African asylum seekers in Italy who had never previously seen snow have taken up winter sports and formed a curling team, Politico reports.

“We used to fall down all the time, we couldn’t stand up straight,” says Edward, “then we slowly got used to it and managed to feel comfortable on ice.” The men have made great progress from those tentative first steps and, as they wait for their asylum requests to be processed, now train twice a week.

Unfortunately, they were denied entry to an inter-regional curling tournament due to bureaucratic restrictions on foreign players, but hope to test themselves in competition soon.

Check out the great photos.


Stat of the week: 33% of Australian small-business owners are migrants, 83% of whom didn’t own a business before arriving in Australia. (Source: CGU Migrant Business Report)

A new ad by CGU Insurance features Hamid, a refugee from Iran who has started a painting business, with the tagline “Grit, hard work, resilience, Australian as it gets”. Watch it on YouTube.


Have a good weekend


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