Grow Tulsa’s Population
For the past three decades, metro areas like Tulsa have become new gateway cities that receive rising numbers of immigrants and refugees. Many of these cities see their foreign-born population as the main driver of population growth – this is particularly true in Tulsa. From 2010 – 2015, over 27 percent of Tulsa’s population growth can be attributed to immigrants. (US Census Data). If Tulsa’s greatest assets are our people, the new reality is that a growing number of Tulsans are also immigrants.
Grow Tulsa’s Workforce
In order for Tulsa to have a population that is prepared to respond to its business community’s workforce needs, a robust immigrant inclusion program is a critical component. In Tulsa, immigrants are an inordinately large portion of those at a prime age to participate in the workforce: 72 percent of immigrants are between the ages of 25-64, whereas only 50 percent of US native born residents are in this age bracket (New American Economy). As a significant portion of our population today, we can include immigrants to fully utilize our existing workforce and talent potential. Furthermore, as we seek to increase Tulsa’s population and demonstrate a strong workforce to prospective businesses, the immigrant community will be a key source of that growth. A program focused on welcoming immigrants can further ensure prosperity for Tulsa by better connecting immigrants to career development opportunities.
Adding Jobs to the Local Economy
Research shows that immigrants are more likely to start their own businesses, providing more employment opportunities for the overall population. Currently there are 2,212 immigrant entrepreneurs in Tulsa, revealing that immigrants are 76 percent more likely to start their own business (New American Economy). By creating an entrepreneurial ecosystem that is inclusive of immigrant business owners, we can increase our visibility as a city that welcomes the launch of new companies and encourages innovation.
Increasing the High School Graduation Rate
In 2015, 26 percent of children living in the US had at least one immigrant parent (Migration Policy Institute). With Tulsa’s immigrant population growing rapidly, it is important to consider how their children may be impacted by negative political rhetoric and the consequences this may have on academic achievement. As Tulsa’s public schools become more diverse, educators must consider the unique challenges their students and their immigrant families face. If the City wants to tackle the high school graduation rates, it is critical to alleviate barriers that inhibit immigrant families’ integration to Tulsa. Eliminating obstacles will help immigrants and their students engage with their educators in public schools. Ultimately, a meaningful immigrant integration plan could be an important factor that increases our high school graduation rate.
Bringing Tulsa Together
Our City can be proactive in removing barriers that impede meaningful immigrant integration and be a force in preventing further community exclusion and isolation. Without a purposeful approach to promote the social inclusion of immigrants, Tulsa may experience further community division between long-term residents and immigrant residents. As Tulsa becomes a city that unites diverse communities, this also means we can be a welcoming city that nurtures healthy economic and social growth for everyone, both the immigrant residents and long-term residents. These benefits will carry over into achieving other goals, including, reducing racial disparities and building a resilient world class City that offers prosperity for all Tulsans.