GAINESVILLE, FL — A new report released today by New American Economy in partnership with the City of Gainesville and the Rural Women’s Health Project, underscores the critical role immigrants in Gainesville play in education, business creation, and STEM innovation. Despite making up 11.3 percent of Gainesville’s population, immigrants accounted for 23 percent of the city’s STEM workers and 16 percent of business owners. In 2019 alone, immigrants in the city held $241.7 million in spending power, and paid $53.8 million in federal taxes and $22.2 million in state and local taxes.
The new report was awarded to the City of Gainesville as part of the Gateways for Growth Challenge, a competitive opportunity for localities to receive research support and/or technical assistance from New American Economy and Welcoming America to improve immigrant inclusion in their communities. The City of Gainesville Immigrant Neighbor Inclusion (GINI) initiative, in partnership with the New American Economy, released the new report to bring together leaders across sectors to ensure that Gainesville welcomes and harnesses the potential of all its residents.
This report was released today at 10am on the steps of City Hall as Mayor Lauren Poe proclaimed October 28 Gainesville Immigrants Day. It will be leveraged in the city’s efforts to draft a multi-sector immigrant inclusion strategy. The GINI Initiative has been hosting a series of listening sessions, working groups, and surveys to garner community feedback on how to make the community more welcoming and supportive for immigrant and marginalized communities.
“The report gives us really good data to help inform important policy decisions made by members of the Gainesville City Commission,” said Deborah Bowie, Assistant City Manager. “There are many critical data points that help to tell a more accurate and complete story about who the people are behind the immigration numbers — how they contribute to our community, help strengthen our tax base and comprise a significant portion of our local jobs market.”
“I believe one of the greatest strengths in our nation is the diversity of our people and our ability to integrate and grow together into something better than before,” said Ethan Maia de Needell, co-coordinator for the GINI Steering Committee “However, before this growth can happen, we must recognize and respect the differences between us – it is my sincere hope that GINI’s work will help to do just that for Gainesville’s rich and diverse communities.”
“Immigration has played a critical role across Florida, and Gainesville is no exception,” said Leani García Torres, Associate Director of State and Local Initiatives at New American Economy. “In recognizing and harnessing the skills and talent of the city’s vibrant immigrant community and recognizing the importance of prioritizing inclusion for all, the city is making an important investment in its future.”
“Gainesville’s efforts to combine data with a strategic plan demonstrate its commitment to taking a comprehensive, community-driven approach to immigrant inclusion,” said Molly Hilligoss, Network Director of Welcoming America. “We look forward to working with city leaders and the Rural Women’s Health Project to ensure that all residents are included in Gainesville’s growth and prosperity.”
The new research report, New Americans in Gainesville, finds:
- Immigration is helping drive population growth in Gainesville. Immigrants accounted for 24.4 percent of the population growth in Gainesville between 2014 and 2019. Over that time period, Gainesville’s total population grew by 2.8 percent and its immigrant population grew by 6.2 percent. As of 2019, immigrants made up 11.3 percent of the total population.
- Immigrant households support federal social programs. The foreign-born contributed $33.8 million to Social Security and $8.7 million to Medicare in 2019.
- Immigrants in Gainesville help create or preserve local manufacturing jobs. Because of the role immigrants play in the workforce helping companies keep jobs on U.S. soil, immigrants in the regions helped create or preserve approximately 700 manufacturing jobs that would have otherwise vanished or moved elsewhere.
- Immigrants are helping the city meet its rising labor in the STEM and education sectors. Despite making up just 11.3 percent of the overall population, immigrants represented 13.2 percent of the employed labor force in Gainesville in 2019. Immigrant residents also made up 23.7 percent of the city’s STEM and 17.5 percent of the city’s education workers.
- Immigrants play a particularly significant role in Gainesville as they are bringing much-needed talent. In 2019, 59.5 percent of the immigrants ages 25 and up held at least a bachelor’s degree, compared with 41.9 percent of the U.S.-born population in Gainesville. About 35.6 percent of the immigrants held an advanced degree, compared with 19.4 percent of the U.S.-born population in the city.
Read the full research brief here.