It was with interest that I read the editorial in Sunday’s Roanoke Times about the presence of immigrants—in this case from Poland—from the very inception of Virginia. I say with interest because, as we approach Independence Day, I am reminded that many celebrations around the Fourth of July often include a citizenship or naturalization ceremony, where recent immigrants are welcome as new members of our great country.
With this post I want to highlight a few of the contributions immigrants make in our community. This information comes from an initiative the city is involved in with The New American Economy and Welcoming America, intended to highlight the contributions of immigrants and to create a more welcoming environment in Roanoke via an Immigrant Integration Plan.
The research conducted by New America Economy indicates that immigrant households in Roanoke annually earn $340 million and contribute over $75 million in taxes, leaving them with more than $228 million in spending power. The report estimates the Roanoke region is home to nearly 12,000 immigrants, with nearly 25% hailing from Mexico or Honduras. More than 11% of the immigrant population are employed in STEM jobs. More than 13% of local construction jobs are held by recent immigrants, and nearly 9% of local manufacturing jobs. More than 7% of local businesses are owned by immigrants, employing more than 2,300 people. Nearly 50% of immigrants own their own homes, with a combined value of more than $506 million.
The American Story
This report provides insight to what has always been true in Virginia and what constitutes a major part of the American story—that our diversity has and continues to make us strong, socially and economically. So as we gather to celebrate our Nation’s independence and as recent immigrants across the country take their oaths to become new Americans, let’s pause to celebrate the richness and diversity that has made us such a special place and a beacon of hope to the World over.
-- Bob Cowell