GRBJ: Research eyes impact of refugees, immigrants

Thanks to a national initiative in its second year, Grand Rapids will be one of 25 communities getting an assist quantifying the economic contributions of refugees and immigrants.

Samaritas — a faith-based nonprofit — the city of Grand Rapids and the Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce recently received a research-based, nonfinancial award through the 2017 Gateways for Growth Challenge to highlight the contributions immigrants are making by bolstering population growth, increasing the tax base, starting new businesses, creating jobs, and adding vibrancy and culture to the region.

Two nonpartisan, immigration-focused nonprofits — New American Economy and Welcoming America — will conduct tailored research over the next three months on Kent County, with a special focus on Grand Rapids, using U.S. Census metadata.

Joel Lautenbach, executive director of development for Samaritas, applied for the grant with the backing of the city and chamber, and is the project’s coordinator.

He said the finished report — to be released in 2018 — will allow the Office of New Americans, economic developers, the Grand Rapids chamber, the West Michigan Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, nonprofits that serve refugees, the city and its education systems to better understand and tell the story of nonresidents who come to make West Michigan home.

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About NAE

New American Economy is a bipartisan research and advocacy organization fighting for smart federal, state, and local immigration policies that help grow our economy and create jobs for all Americans. More…