Immigrants: The key to revitalization success for many U.S. Rustbelt cities.

The United States started as a nation that folded immigrants into its cultural, economic and social fabric, and cities that are still working to attract foreign newcomers are revitalizing their economies despite tough times, President Barack Obama’s top immigration-policy adviser said on July 9, 2015.

Leaders such as Columbus and Dayton can help “lift up other cities, too,” Felicia Escobar told about 250 government officials, policy makers and other professionals who work with immigrants and refugees, at a conference in Dayton, Ohio.

The U.S. has more than 40 million immigrants and refugees from countries that circle the globe, Escobar said. They start nearly 30 percent of new businesses.

Immigrants or the children of immigrants also have founded more than 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies, employing more than 3.6 million people.

In 2011, the Dayton City Commission voted to make the city more “immigrant friendly” as a way to revive its economy and stem job losses. It’s working, city officials said.

Immigrants and refugees also are helping to reverse Dayton’s population decline, according to the report by the Partnership for a New American Economy and Welcome Dayton.

[Image credit: Dollar Photo Club]

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