Immokalee is a city in Florida with population of more than 24 thousand people. According to United States Census Bureau, the population of the city is constituted by the following race categories: white alone (43.2%), black alone (18.9%), American Indian (1%), Hispanic people (75.6%) (Immokalee CDP, 2014). At that, 42.6% of people are foreign born and 80.5% speak other than English at home. It is noteworthy that more than 60% of people are between 18 and 65. More than forty per cent of population are females. As far as education is concerned, only slightly more than 32% of people have high school education or higher education (3.9% have bachelor’s degrees). It is necessary to note that 45% of people live below poverty level. Clearly, the situation in the city is quite difficult.
One of the major sectors of the economy is farming. It is noteworthy that it is difficult to estimate the number of farmers in Immokalee as six out of ten farm workers are not documented (Farm workers, 2014, para. 2). Besides, during seasonal works, thousands of immigrants come to perform a variety of farming tasks. Thus, according to National Agricultural Workers Survey, 78% of farming workers are “foreign-born and crossed a border to get” to the city (Farm workers, 2014, para. 2). Clearly, these workers’ rights are hardly secured and the wages they get are very low as farming companies make considerable profits and tend to pay low wages to their workers.
Obviously, the community needs considerable investment and policy makers’ attention. There are a number of organizations in Immokalee that focus on the rights of farmers and immigrants (Farm workers, 2014). People stress that they need fair salaries and appropriate working conditions. Clearly, the city needs specific investment into education as inability to find a well-paid job contributes to poverty in the region.
Some people see gambling industry as one of possible options for development of the city. Thus, existing casinos are quite successful and there is an ongoing debate on the possibility to expand this industry in the city as well as the state (Fineout, 2013). However, according to recent research, such expansion would hardly benefit the city and the entire state as it is found that casinos may be beneficial for certain counties where they are located. Supporters of the idea emphasize that the industry will create new jobs and local people will benefit from construction of casinos. Nonetheless, researchers have found that the industry will not be able to provide significant funds in taxes (Fineout, 2013).
Besides, construction of casinos will require considerable areas and, in the farming areas, this can have a negative impact on the farming industry. Again, investors will be attracted to the gambling industry and other sectors of the local economy may suffer.
Therefore, instead of investing into development of the new industry, it will be more effective to allocate funds into farming. The situation with immigrants and harsh working conditions require specific attention. The local government has to oblige large farming companies to provide fair salaries and proper working conditions. Admittedly, issues associated with immigration will require a lot of time, effort and time to be solved.
However, experience of many other states suggest that these issues can be effectively addressed. It is also important to ensure that workers are documented as this will enable them to get fair salary and address officials if necessary. It has been acknowledged that large farming companies contribute to criminalization of immigrants and make these people work for lower salaries as they threaten to reveal their illegal status to the authorities (Farm workers, 2014).
As a way to address this issue, policy makers should consider possibility to provide financial support to local farmers to create an alternative to large farm companies that tend to take advantage of local people and immigrants. These farmers should be subsidized as these entrepreneurs need advanced technology to increase their profit. Of course, there should be certain supervision over their operations as well to ensure their compliance with the laws and rules.
It is essential to make the community involved in the process. Involvement of the community is likely to force companies to be more socially responsible. For instance, students in Immokalee took active part in the process in 2009. Student senate passed resolution aimed at supporting farm workers (Gonzales, 2009). According to this resolution, farm companies were obliged to raise salaries to their workers. The raise was not dramatic but it was substantial for the workers who earn very low wages. This instance suggests that community can influence development of the industry.
In conclusion, it is necessary to note that economy can benefit from investment into development of education and training as the population is quite young. Local people will be able to acquire necessary skills to contribute to development of their city. Improved financial conditions of the local people will benefit the development of the city where the level of poverty is very high compared to the state and national level.
Farm Workers & Immigration. (2014). Web.
Fineout, G. (2013). Florida doesn’t need casinos to continue growing its tourism economy. Web.
Gonzalez, T. (2009). Student senate passes resolution supporting farm workers. Gainesville Times. Web.
Immokalee CDP, Florida. (2014). Web.