A least a portion of what makes Los Angeles, New York, and San Francisco such economic powerhouses may come from the fact that they're prime gateways for international immigration. "A study by David Dyssegaard Kallick of the New York-based Fiscal Policy Institute examined the experience of the 25 largest metropolitan areas, starting in 1990," reports Bloomberg's Shikha Dalmia. "He found that wherever there was economic growth, there was immigration, and wherever there was immigration, there was economic growth."
Although cities are recognizing that immigrants "are a net boon -- not a burden -- for local economies," as Dalmia notes, "[t]hey aren't the engine for growth. They are only the fuel, albeit a high-octane one. The difference is crucial."
As Dalmia reports, a study conducted in 2003 by Sanda Kaufman, a professor of planning, policy and public administration at Cleveland State University, questioned the effectiveness of using immigration as a tool for urban renewal. Nonetheless, policies to attract and retain immigrants are gaining in popularity in many cities, especially those struggling to reverse decades of declining populations.