Michigan, USA – “When the economy goes down, crime goes up,” says Adel Oraha, spokesperson for a growing group of Chaldean business leaders looking at moving into other states. “We can’t keep doing business in Michigan if this state continues to beat-up on business with taxes and crime.”
Chaldean business owners have begun forming collaborative groups to explore creating business parks in different states that are welcoming to Chaldeans. Oraha says, “As a group we have over 2,000 employees and bring in over ten million in state taxes alone each year. Crime, corruption, and high taxes make it hard to continue doing business in Michigan. However, many businesses want to leave because of how unwelcoming the state has become for small business owners. But we can’t move because of our culture and ties to the church and community. We are working to change all that.”
The bold move by Oraha and his fellow group members are researching plans to move an entire community. “We are looking into which states would be best for Chaldean business families. The place has to be business friendly, good schools, ability to build or lease a church for Chaldean services and near banquet facilities for family parties, and inexpensive air travel for continued family connections.” says Oraha. The Chaldean grocery store chain owner was reluctant to say which states the group is leaning towards.
Traditionally Chaldeans in Michigan move as a community. The community often follows the Chaldean churches for residential and commercial investments. Initially Chaldeans settled in the Detroit seven mile and Woodward area. After increased crime, failing schools, and continued alienation by Detroit officials the community moved to Oak Park. As the community grew and businesses expanded Chaldeans again began moving further East and West of the state into neighboring suburban areas.
“Crime and taxes hurt businesses. First our community moves their residency and then their businesses. What happened in Detroit is now happening in Oak Park and Southfield. Chaldeans do not want to invest in these cities any more,” says Oraha. “The cities push away Chaldeans with high taxes, crime and no representation.”
Oraha believes his group can help major segments of the Chaldean business community move entirely into other states. “We move over city by city. Chaldeans unhappy with Southfield move into Farmington, West Bloomfield, and Troy. It is time to look at moving into other states not just cities.”
Crime against Chaldean businesses is also a big concern. Some cities caught the trend early as Chaldean business began leaving and worked to stem the tide. In just two years, the Michigan State Police Department has helped curb crime in the city of Saginaw and Buena Vista Township.
The partnership with local agencies is part of an ongoing effort to make Saginaw County safe and keeps their local economy thriving.
Their work receives plenty of community support from businesses like Blue Diamond on the city's east side. "For me, I couldn't stay in business without police -- the city or the state," said Blue Diamond's George Kashat. "With the economy, people, you know, with this kind of business, we need protection."
Since the start of the push, troopers have stopped more than 7,300 vehicles. More than 950 fugitives have been arrested, which has led to the solving of nearly 1,800 outstanding warrants. Police busted 260 people for drug possession and put 220 people behind bars for other major crimes.
A trooper's day on the city detail consists of making traffic stops, knocking on doors and simply being proactive. "You can see the difference quite significantly," said Trooper Jason Bledsoe with the Bridgeport MSP post. "It gives us the opportunity to patrol the high-crime areas."
"It boils down to getting the bad guys, the guns and drugs off the streets," said Trooper Doug Hunt with the Bridgeport post.
For two years running, the State Police and Saginaw city detail have seen how their efforts have paid off. More Chaldean owned business have remained in the city rather than closing and investing in different ventures in other cities.
Oraha feels city of Saginaw and Buena Vista Township is doing the right thing to keep businesses in their city. “They reached out to Chaldean businesses and worked with us. They involved Chaldeans that were close to our church and community. They made us feel welcomed, they stopped crime, and we opened more businesses. Now they are able to make more money because more people and businesses move into the city and pay taxes.”