LYNCHBURG, VA -Sustainable furniture entrepreneur and African immigrant, Thomas A. Johnson, gives his take on immigration reform in an open letter to the President and Congress. Johnson says that the advancements in immigration reform are a commendable but asks that the President and Congress apply the same amount of time and energy in advancing technical education so that the millions of Americans that are hopeless and jobless can be equipped with a skill set that will allow them to take full advantage of the opportunities afforded to them in America. Johnson says that in America, opportunities are plentiful but one must have a skill set in order to be able to “find the opportunity that will fit them.”

Being an immigrant I applaud the President and Congress for their push for comprehensive immigration reform. I have experienced first hand the opportunities that are available here in America, the sweet land of liberty- the glue that binds the rest of the world together. When I came to America with a skill set, discipline, determination and dedication, I was able to find the opportunity that fit me. I worked hard and made my dream come true.

Unfortunately, there are many Americans who have no skill set to enable them to identify the opportunities that are plentiful in the United States. Therefore I urge the President and Congress to exert the same amount of energy and time to ensure that policies are put in place to support technical education, business development, business growth, and the development of job creators in America.

I want to give back to my country by reclaiming the lost art of woodworking in America. I purchased 35 acres of land with a 131,000 square foot facility to turn it into Mayflower Landing, a wood products manufacturing village that will house a technical school to train future generations of woodworking entrepreneurs. I hope this concept will become a model to be used across the country to help unleash the talents of Americans.

Please visit www.mayflowerlanding.org to learn more about the development.

Respectfully,

Thomas A. Johnson

tj@mayflowerlanding.org

Last month, Johnson was personally invited by Bertelsmann leadership to participate in the 5th annual Financial Times and Bertelsmann Foundation financial conference in Washington, DC. Johnson brought a unique perspective to the discussion on global economic reform. “I am an example of the true American Dream — a Ghanaian immigrant who came to this country with only twenty dollars and a set of skills,” said Johnson.“Those skills were key to my success as an entrepreneur. I strongly believe that if we do not invest in technical education we will never successfully harness the exceptional human capital existing here in the United States.”

Johnson says woodworking is an ancient craft and has been an integral part of the American heritage. He says that legacy is now in jeopardy with the rise in furniture imports and with the lack of skilled woodworkers found in the U.S.

“When we were born, a woodworker welcomed us into the world by way of a cradle. When we die, a woodworker sees us off by way of a coffin. In between life and death, a woodworker builds our homes and furniture. The buildings we frequent and work out of, all are built by woodworkers — the carpenter, joiner and cabinetmaker. Therefore, it is imperative that we reclaim the lost art of woodworking in America,” says Johnson.

Johnson recently launched and online crowdfunding campaign for the Thomas A. Johnson School of American Woodworking. Funds for the school are being collected online until June 10 through USA Projects, a non-profit organization launched by United States Artists that allows accomplished artists to fund projects by posting them on its site. All donations are tax deductible. For more information and to donate, visit mayflowerlanding.org.

For more information on the Thomas A. Johnson School of American Woodworking at Mayflower Landing or to schedule and interview with Thomas A. Johnson, please contact Meisha Card at 770-895-5157 or email Meisha at mc@mayflowerlanding.org

Have something to say? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.