New American Economy, EngageNWA, and the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, released a study on the impact of immigration in the Northwest Arkansas region. By starting new businesses that create jobs, supporting the workforce of the area’s top industries, buying homes, and paying taxes, the report shows how the foreign-born population is making significant contributions to the region’s economy, as well as its cultural diversity. With this report release, Northwest Arkansas is on track to be one of the first Welcoming Regions in the country, joining Welcoming America’s network of more than one hundred welcoming communities.
Drawing on data from the American Community Survey, the study highlights how new Americans play a critical role in the future success of the Northwest Arkansas metro area.
- Immigrants accounted for 42 percent of the region’s population growth between 2009 and 2014.
- Immigrants contributed $3.1 billion to the metro area’s GDP in 2014 and held $1 billion in spending power.
- Immigrants contributed $131 million in state and local taxes in 2014.
- Immigrants in the region contributed $698.1 million to Social Security and $163.3 million to Medicare during the period from 2009 to 2014.
- Between 2000 and 2014, immigration to the region increased the total housing value by $759 million.
- While 11.1 percent of the population, immigrants are 15.4 percent of the region’s employed labor force, and helped to create or preserve 2,569 manufacturing jobs.
- Immigrants who own their own businesses generated $35 million in business income in 2014.
- International students attending institutions of higher education in the region supported 522 local jobs and contributed more than $46 million to the local economy in 2014.
The report features stories of prominent New Americans in the Northwest Arkansas region. Profiles include the story of Zakir Syed, an immigrant from India who helped support his family through high school by washing dishes in an Italian restaurant, earned a college degree from Purdue University, and moved to Northwest Arkansas where he now owns two homes. As Director of Category and Modular Development for Walmart, Syed is in charge of analysis and design of how products are assorted and displayed in the entertainment and electronics section of Walmart stores.
As part of a broader strategy for promoting the region as a global community of talent, New American Economy, Welcoming America, EngageNWA, and the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation are convening local leaders to develop a regional approach to welcoming and integrating immigrant communities.
For additional reading, see A Profile of Immigrants in Arkansas by the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation.
Read the report here.