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Martha's Vineyard's Secret Ingredient: The Unstoppable Migrant Workforce

The small island of Martha's Vineyard is understood by most as a playground for the rich and famous. However, not everyone knows about the large migrant population that gives this island life. I have been living on this island for the past eight years and one aspect never ceases to amaze me: this island would not be able to operate without its migrant population. Whether it is individuals on student visas or individuals who have just been able to become a citizen, these people are the lifeblood of the island and create that coastal atmosphere that people travel across the country to experience.



In order to understand the island, one needs to know one simple fact: the population in the winter is around 20,000 compared to 200,000 in the summer. Many of the businesses on the island are open seasonally and desperately need the aid of migrant workers in order to support their local businesses. Entrepreneurship is a major staple of the island as there are no chains permitted except for Stop & Shop. These family-owned businesses and the wealthy patrons that shop their wares are all in debt to those who choose to venture from their home country and make a living on Martha’s Vineyard.


I have had the pleasure of knowing many of these amazing people throughout my seven years of working on the island, and their work ethic as well as passion is unmatched. Even though I have worked in similar fields and businesses, I cannot hold a candle to many of these migrant workers. Furthermore, many of these workers have multiple jobs and not one day off a week in order to procure enough funds to pay for their education and send it home to their families in their native country. For many of the people that are working on the island these jobs provide a little extra income for the summer. Thus, these jobs are providing them with opportunities that are hard to find anywhere else.


Due to the expensive nature of the island, many of the jobs are paying far more than minimum wage compared to other towns in Massachusetts. As a result, the island gives these workers that much more incentive to leave their homes and to travel to this island off the coast of Massachusetts. It is important to recognize these migrants, as their efforts are often overlooked and undermined. These workers are the backbone of the island along with all of the other individuals that are trying to make a living on one of the most expensive locations in the country. Through their hard work and determination many migrant entrepreneurs have become successful on this island - a task that is no small feat. In order to become successful you need to bring in most of your revenue over the summer- a business strategy that is easier said than done. Nevertheless, the no-nonsense work ethic of these migrants have allowed them to thrive.


Throughout my time at DREAM Venture Labs, I have had the opportunity to learn about the stories of our migrant entrepreneurs and for me the piece that always stands out is the hard work and dedication of these individuals. Our country is known for being a place where someone can obtain the American dream from all walks of life, and I still believe this is true even though our great country has evolved drastically. Even through this change one thing remains the same: hard work and dedication to your craft is the only way to ensure that you achieve your dream. I have seen it work even on Martha’s Vineyard which is one of the most expensive places to start a business. This is why our mission at Dream Venture Labs is so important to me. We are trying to give migrants a better chance at achieving their American dream. If migrant entrepreneurs can thrive in one of the most volatile markets of Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts, then they can thrive anywhere. It is important to reflect on how necessary migrant workers are to our country and how they have undoubtedly aided you in your own endeavors and think about how your contribution could create an opportunity like no others for these hard working individuals.


I know the entrepreneurs working with Dream Venture Labs will bring a work ethic that can never be matched, yet we still need your help in moving past some of the toughest berries in order to aid these amazing people in fulfilling their American dream, one that we have all longed for.










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