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Live Local, Think Global Event to Discuss Impact of Significant Foreign-Born Population Growth

facebook bannerNumber of immigrants in Marion County on pace to nearly double in 10 years

INDIANAPOLIS (Aug. 19, 2015) – The Immigrant Welcome Center and the Indy Chamber have opened registration for the inaugural Live Local, Think Global event to be held at 5 p.m. on September 10 at the Athenaeum in Indianapolis. The event will serve as a call-to-action for businesses to prepare for and embrace Indianapolis’ changing demographics.

“To be successful, Indianapolis must plan ahead to adapt to this immigration trend, welcome immigrants and embrace them as neighbors, students, entrepreneurs, coworkers and customers,” said Neelay Bhatt, Immigrant Welcome Center board member, vice president, PROS Consulting Inc., and a first-generation immigrant to Indianapolis from India. “To put it into basketball terms, good players go where the ball is, great ones go where the ball is going to be, and we want Indy to continue to be a great city.”

Based on U.S. Census and American Community Survey data1, PROS Consulting says the number of immigrants in Marion County is projected to grow from roughly 60,000 today to 118,000 in 2023, a jump from 8 to 12.5 percent of the population. [View infographic]

“By 2026, it is projected that Marion County will be a minority-majority County,” said Bhatt. “If Indianapolis doesn’t adapt, we will be left behind. Residents and businesses will be drawn to our peer cities such Charlotte, Columbus, Kansas City and any other immigrant-friendly city.”

“Thriving cities boast great neighborhoods, the best job opportunities and the highest quality of life for everyone,” said Michael Huber, President and CEO, Indy Chamber. “Indianapolis is already the Racing Capital of the World and the Crossroads of America. To remain competitive—locally, nationally and internationally—we need to be the Most Welcoming City in America.”

[Related: Indianapolis Named 51st Welcoming America City]

Huber will be joined at the September 10 event by a panel of business leaders from Cummins, Eli Lilly and Company, Indiana Farm Bureau and Keystone Construction. The event will be emceed by Indianapolis Star columnist Mathew Tully and WIBC reporter Mike Corbin.
For additional information or to register for the event, visit the Live Local, Think Global site. Event activity can be tracked at #ThinkGlobalIndy.

What does the demographic shift mean to the Indy workforce?
In less than 10 years, the number of immigrants age 25 or older with a bachelor’s degree or higher also will grow by 50 percent, meaning newcomers will arrive with a competitive skill set attractive to businesses looking to relocate or start up in Indianapolis. [View infographic]

Forty percent of Fortune 500 firms were founded by immigrants or their children, according to the Partnership for a New American Economy. “In fact, the CEOs of two of the largest tech companies in the world, Microsoft and Google, as well as those at Pepsi and MasterCard are first-generation immigrants,” said Bhatt. “We must cultivate an environment that will enable the next Google or Apple to be built right here in Indy.”

Top three growth industries for Indy immigrants
The top three growth industries for immigrants in Indianapolis, which include: 1) arts and entertainment and hospitality, 2) education services and health care, and 3) professional, scientific, technology and management, will each more than double by 2023.

“The demographics of our nation are changing rapidly,” Huber added. “Our laws and governments, schools and businesses, and faith, service and health organizations—the very fabric of our communities, need to be proactive and evolve with them.”

[Related –Welcoming Week 2015, Sept. 12 – 20, to Feature ALL-IN Block Party on Monument Circle]

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1PROS Consulting Inc. used straight-line linear regression to project 2018 and 2023 demographics based on the population trends in Marion County from 2009-2013 using 2010 U.S. Census data and American Community Survey2 data through 2013.

2The ACS is a nationwide survey by the U.S. Census Bureau that collects and produces information on demographic, social, economic, and housing characteristics about the U.S. population every year. About 1 in 38 U.S. households per year receives an invitation to participate in the ACS.


About Immigrant Welcome Center
immigrant welcome center logoThe Immigrant Welcome Center began community outreach in 2007 through its Natural Helpers program, which today includes 81 volunteers representing 38 countries and speaking 40 languages. Natural Helpers are immigrants themselves who live and work in the communities they serve. They are a trained, dedicated group of bilingual volunteers who connect newcomers to community organizations that can provide information and referral for assistance with transportation, health care, employment and job training, education, legal issues, ESL classes and more.

In addition to the Natural Helpers program, the Immigrant Welcome Center serves as a resource for community programs by collecting information about immigrant needs and how to best meet them, as well as by coordinating interagency services and addressing barriers to access.

About Indy Chamber
Indy Chamber - Vertical_pmsThe Indy Chamber is the voice of progress and improvement for the Indianapolis region’s business community. With membership of nearly 2,300 businesses representing 230,000 employees in the Indianapolis region, the Indy Chamber is leading the effort to strengthen the business climate, improve the state of education, revitalize neighborhoods and enhance the region’s workforce. In 2012, the Indy Chamber merged with Indy Partnership, Develop Indy, and Business Ownership Initiative.

Immigrant Welcome Center- Natural Helpers

It’s easy to start up a new organization. But keeping it going? That’s the real challenge.

The group of Indianapolis leaders who launched the Immigrant Welcome Center a decade ago knew they needed to build an organization that would sustain itself.  And what better way than creating a means for immigrants to help immigrants navigate the maze of services available in the Indianapolis area?

The Immigrant Welcome Center, the brainchild of Amy Minick Peterson, was founded to meet the real-life needs of foreign-born newcomers to our community.  Her team learned about a program through the Annie E. Casey Foundation, where immigrants worked with fellow immigrants to access resources and services in their new communities.  The Casey Foundation program, which operated in a number of other cities, was called Natural Helpers

The Immigrant Welcome Center Natural Helpers program is straightforward- people who have been through the experience of moving to a strange city in a foreign country help fellow immigrants figure out how to get a job, an education, medical services, access to transportation, and more.  And when that helper has come from the same part of the world as the newcomer, the transition is smoother because of their shared language and culture.

Beth Casselman, Executive Director of the Indianapolis-based Clowes Foundation, said her board was willing to commit to the Immigrant Welcome Center after seeing the Natural Helpers program in action.  “what really resonated with us is there are so many needs in the immigrant community,” she said, and her board believed it was critical to develop leaders within that community.  Immigrant Welcome Center and the Natural Helpers program proved to be a great fit with that goal.

With funding from Casey, Clowes and other sources, Immigrant Welcome Center was up and running as a 5012c3 nonprofit operating out of the John H. Boner Community Center with Terri Morris Downs as its Executive Director.  And in October 2006, the first group of Natural Helpers was trained and delivering support and services throughout Indianapolis.

Today, the Natural Helpers program is a centerpiece of the Immigrant Welcome Center with 80 Natural Helpers working to make Indianapolis a truly welcoming community for all newcomers.

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To learn more about the growing foreign-born population in Indianapolis, Join us on September 10th for Live Local, Think Global

The Immigrant Welcome Center- building connections and community

Imagine traveling thousands of miles to a city in a new country where you don’t understand the language, the culture and customs seem strange, and where the simplest tasks are overwhelming. Immigrants to our community face those challenges every single day.

How do you navigate the public school system? What about a job? Housing? Learning English? Yes, there are services in Indianapolis to help immigrants, but they aren’t in one place and they aren’t always easy to access.

That was what Amy Minick Peterson realized about a decade ago when, as first lady of Indianapolis, she witnessed the challenges faced by foreign-born newcomers.  She was visiting an organization that provided services to the Latino community when a young couple with two small children carrying their possessions in grocery bags walked in asking for help.

She asked questions about how the family got there and what was going to happen to them after she left. And she continued asking questions as she met with members of her staff, including Terri Downs, and with Mike Carter of the Greater Indianapolis Progress Committee.

Out of those conversations the Immigrant Welcome Center was born. Their goal – do as much as possible to make Indianapolis a welcoming city. They were going to do this by providing the resources to link foreign-born newcomers to the people, places and resources they need to build their lives in a new community.

But where to start? Enter the Annie E. Casey Foundation, which funds initiatives to help disadvantaged children and their families. Through the Casey Foundation they learned about a program that trains immigrants to help each other navigate the web of programs and resources. They traveled to Seattle where a similar program operated so they could learn what works and adapt the model to Indianapolis.

With initial funding from the Casey Foundation, the Clowes Fund in Indianapolis and others, the Immigrant Welcome Center was launched as a 501c3 organization with the Natural Helpers Program as its centerpiece and Downs as its executive director.

Carter summed up their mission best when he said that they didn’t want to repeat what other groups were doing and wanted to build an organization that would last.

And that’s what they’ve done.