From Managing Decline to Building the Future: Could a Heartland Visa Help Struggling Regions?

Adam Ozimek et al
Date of Publication: 
April, 2019
Source Organization: 

This report begins by providing demographic and geographic data on population changes in the U.S., noting that half of U.S. counties are losing population, and 80 percent of counties have seen a decline in the population of prime working age adults between 2007 and 2017. The report then examines the consequences of shrinking population on housing markets, local government finances, and overall economic conditions. Low- or negative-growth counties find themselves in a negative feedback loop, as high-skilled residents relocate to counties offering greater opportunity and more dynamic economies, further depressing the local economy. The authors suggest that skilled immigrants could help struggling localities stem and even reverse their losses, and argue for the creation of Place-Based Visas (PBVs) to attract skilled immigrants willing to settle in these areas. The authors do not offer a specific prescription, but instead lay out a set of key principles that should anchor the architecture of a new PBV, and discuss some parameters that policy makers will have to consider, such as how many such visas should be made available, and their period of validity. The authors review past legislative attempts to create PBVs, and they point to the success of Canada’s Provincial Nominee Program, and Australia’s multiple regional immigration visas in attracting immigrants willing to settle outside of the most populous regions. The authors conclude the PBVs could provide a powerful new tool for communities not content to simply manage their decline, but instead determined to stop the downward spiral and achieve economic revitalization through immigration. (Maurice Belanger, Maurice Belanger Consulting)

Download now or view online.


Ozimek, A. (2019). From Managing Decline to Building the Future: Could a Heartland Visa Help Struggling Regions? Economic Innovation Group. Retrieved from