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Roanoke Analyzes Economic Impact of Immigrants and Refugees

How do the immigrant and refugee communities contribute to the Roanoke Valley and its economy? Roanoke recently received funding from a group of immigrant advocacy groups to analyze that question.

The findings suggest immigrant and refugee populations make up a tiny portion of the Roanoke Valley’s overall population – about 6% in 2017.

However, Wayne Leftwich, Roanoke’s senior city planner, says they have a significant economic impact.

“They earned over $300 million last year. They contributed over $75 million in taxes in 2017," he explains. "So, it’s important to look at these numbers in context of how they are contributing members to our community.”

The report also looked at what kinds of jobs where being filled by members of those populations.

“They represented over 11% of the science, technology, engineering and math jobs within the valley. And nearly 14% of general services and construction jobs as well,” says Leftwich.

Some of the data will be used in the Welcoming Roanoke plan – an initiative that will work to ensure city policies meet the needs of immigrants who call the area home.

Roanoke leaders are currently collecting public feedback that will also be incorporated into that plan. If you'd like to offer a comment on the Welcoming Roanoke plan, you can do so using this survey.

Nick Gilmore is a meteorologist, news producer and reporter/anchor for RADIO IQ.