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International Institute of Akron:  At University of Akron, Student Union.

On Monday, October 17, I was fortunate enough to attend a “Community Welcoming Summit at the University of20161018_130408Akron, International Institute of Akron Awarded “Gateways for Growth Challenge” to welcome and integrate New Americans to Akron/Summit County.

Dr. Matthew Wilson, Interim University of Akron President began her speech by welcoming the attendees and stated that the city and county of Akron passed resolution welcoming immigrants, refugees, and international students and business, as well as foreign-born entrepreneurs, “every immigrant and refugee need to be valued and well respected in our city, she added”.

An immediate release statement went on to state that, “today the City of Akron/Summit County was selected as one of 20 communities around the country to receive grant funds as a part of the Gateway for Growth Challenge.  The international Institute of Akron, along with the City of Akron, and the County of Summit submitted a proposal in February.  Other partners in this effort include Global Ties Akron and ASIA Inc.  Gateways for Growth is a matching grant in support of the development of multi-sector plans for welcoming and integrating immigrants and refugees into the local community”.

“More and more communities across the United States are being shaped by immigration, seeing demographics shift with new populations that have revitalized neighborhoods, added vitality to business corridors, enriched communities with cultural diversity, and increased the tax base.  With these changes have come both opportunities and challenges.  In the face of this, the community of Akron have begun to think proactively about how to formulate policies and initiatives that maximize the contribution of all residents and helps New Americans thrive and succeed”.

It is noted and agreed upon that a working group, co-chaired by Executive Russ Pry and Mayor Dan Horrigan, will be convened within the next month to begin the planning process.  “The gateway to Growth Challenge is a unique 20161018_111846 opportunity for the County to partner with many important local agencies to create multi-sector programming for our immigrant and refugee populations”, said County Executive Russ Pry. “Our community has always welcomed new cultures, along with their businesses, community involvement and rich traditions.”

“Having the support and leadership of Mayor Horrigan and Executive Pry, along with our partners, is really critical to the success of this endeavor,” said Elaine Woloshyn, Executive Director of the International Institute.  “we are excited for the work ahead, and look forward to hearing from all parts of the community as the process begins.”

Keynote Speaker, Mr. Richard Herman, Immigration Attorney and Founder of the Herman Legal Group provided powerful statistical data about the impact of the foreign-born immigrant population, and particularly international student in the U.S. as a whole.  Mr. Herman’s research showed that, “there are 974,000 international/F-1 visa students at U.S. Colleges and Universities.  They pump $30.5 billion into our economy.  In the state of Ohio alone, we have 35,000 international students, 36.10 of whom study in STEM Fields, 13.7% are undergraduate international students.  For Ohio alone, the revenue from international students amounts to $1 billion a year. “

A report and data collected by the New American Economy showing the important impact and contributions of New Americans in Ohio indicated that, “in 2014, immigrant-led households earned $12.6 Billion, 5.2% of all income in Ohio, $1.9 Billion went to Social Security and Medicare; $1.3 Billion went to State Taxes, $3.1 Billion went to Federal Taxes, after tax contributions, immigrant-led households held $11.1 Billion in spending power;  foreign-born workers20161018_110624 make up 6.7% of entrepreneurs in Ohio, accounting for 4.2% of the total population.  As for businesses run by foreign-born entrepreneurs, this accounted for $531.9 Million in business income, 122,404 people in Ohio are employed at firms owned by immigrants; according to an analysis of the U.S. census data by the nonpartisan Buckeye Institute, Ohio had the third worst population growth among the states between 2010 and 2012.  Ohio policymakers are attempting to address this issue by welcoming more foreign-born residents.  Between 2010 and 2012, Ohio’s immigrant population grew 2.5%.  Today, Ohio is home to more than 480,000 foreign-born residents, 4.2% of the population.

It is worth mentioning that the International Institute of Akron will receive $12,500.00 from Gateways for Growth.  Matching funds have generously been committed from the following partners:  City of Akron, Summit County, Margaret Clark Morgan Foundation, and the Akron Community Foundation.

The Gateways for Growth Challenge is a project of the Partnership for a New American Economy Research Fund, (PNAE) and Welcoming America.

By:  George Koussa

Public Relations Administrator & Arabic Translator-Interpreter

Margaret W. Wong & Associates, LLC






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