Dayton, Ohio may start a campaign to recruit immigrants to live there and boost its sagging population.

The city's population has dipped to its lowest level -- 142,000 -- since 1920, according to the 2010 Census.

The City Commission is scheduled to vote next week on whether to launch the recruitment, which would be called "Welcome Dayton Plan." City Manager Tim Riordan supports the plan, noting that research shows immigrants are more likely to be entrepreneurs.

Earlier this year, Michigan Gov. Rick Synder set up "Global Michigan," a project targeting, among others, international students and skilled immigrants. Snyder said immigrants were needed in Michigan, which had lost population over the last decade, to help stimulate the economy.

And almost a decade ago, Iowa's then-Gov. Thomas Vilsack launched an immigrant recruitment drive. Vilsack, who now is Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, described the recruitment at the time as important to helping Iowa's economy.

Iowa saw an exodus of families during the farm crisis of the 1980s. High school graduates tended to leave the state, contributing to a population decline. Immigrants from Bosnia, Sudan and Mexico were the source of Iowa's net growth for many years.

In Dayton, Human Relations Director Tom Wahlrab says the city can either welcome immigrants or let old stereotypes and fears hinder its success.

“I believe the city of Dayton is at a crossroads,” said Wahlrab, according to the Dayton Daily News. “We can either welcome them, help integrate them, help them on the path to citizenship, or we can let old stereotypes and fears and preconceptions hinder our success.”

Among ideas for the "Welcome Dayton Plan" are a city identification card for people who are ineligible for a driver's license or state ID, interpretation services in health care and government, and a soccer tournament, the newspaper reported.

This story contains material from The Associated Press.

Follow Elizabeth Llorente on Twitter: @LlorenteLatino


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