Communities Embracing Refugees & Immigrants

November 26, 2013

Researchers and leaders in a number of cities around the country are speaking out about the multifaceted benefits refugees and immigrants have had on their communities in recent weeks.

A comprehensive study conducted in Cleveland, Ohio, revealed that refugee resettlement has been an economic and cultural boon to the city, stemming a loss of population and generating economic activity equivalent to $10 for every $1 spent serving refugee newcomers.

The study, funded by a grant from the Cleveland Foundation and commissioned by a coalition of refugee service organizations, found that for $4.8 million spent annually on refugee services in Cleveland, the community enjoyed $50 million in economic activity generated by the presence and industry of new Americans.

Another city in Ohio has also been in the news for its savvy recognition of the powerful impact refugees and immigrants can have from a neighborhood-development perspective.

The New York Times reported in October on the efforts of the Dayton city commission to draw more new Americans into the community. Certain neighborhoods on the city’s north side have undergone a positive transformation after years of decline, largely thanks to the community building efforts of Turkish immigrants.

With that model in mind, the city commission is implementing a number of policies designed to facilitate business development and economic opportunity in new immigrant communities, the Times reported.

Embracing that same spirit, late last month, Atlanta became the 22nd city to take up the mantle of the “Welcoming Cities” movement. The network of major American cities have made a point of formally acknowledging the contributions of immigrants through a partnership with the organization Welcoming America.

In announcing his community’s designation as a “Welcoming City,” Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed touched on the ties between immigration, progress, and prosperity throughout American history.

“Our country has always been a nation of immigrants and entrepreneurs,” Reed noted. “Throughout our nation’s history, immigrants from around the world have kept our workforce vibrant and on the cutting edge, and they helped to build the greatest economic nation that the world has ever known.”

That sentiment has long been an undercurrent of the American ideal; it appears a growing number of communities are recognizing the power of embracing it.