Immigrant populations are a rich resource often left untapped—but they contain thousands and thousands of intelligent, hardworking people with a strong drive to succeed and diverse perspectives that can contribute to innovation. And in tough economic times, that’s especially important.
Becoming a more welcoming place for immigrants will give them a leg up in that competition and help retain talented people of all backgrounds. And for many cities in the Midwest and Northeast with declining populations, a strategy to attract and retain new taxpayers and families is a matter of survival.
The factors keeping them from that success can often be overcome fairly easily with access to language classes, connections to local employers, and help with job training and cultural integration. That’s what we offer at the Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians.
The result? Immigrants benefit, employers benefit, and communities benefit. That success attracts more businesses, more immigrants, and more professionals and creatives to the region, further increasing the tax base and opening up even more opportunities. For example, a 2008 study by the economic research firm Econsult Corp. found that the 100 workers the Welcoming Center placed in 2007 generated a total annual positive impact of 207 jobs and $4 in earnings. The state funding that helped us place them yielded a return on investment (ROI) of $1.66 for every dollar spent over the course of the decade. And in 2009-10, we placed 310 job seekers with 75 different companies.
In total, we’ve placed more than 1,200 job seekers with 150 different companies in a host of industries, from healthcare to hospitality to manufacturing. And we’ve stuck with them, providing job-retention support to ensure their success. The results? It works: Two-thirds of the employers we’ve worked with have come back within a year to hire more job seekers.