For Immediate Release - June 19, 2014

Governor Patrick Celebrates Immigrant Entrepreneurship Successes in Massachusetts

Celebration of World Refugee Day & Immigrant Entrepreneur Month

Governor Patrick tours the New American Center in Lynn and celebrates World Refugee Day and Immigrant Entrepreneurship Month. (Photo: Jun Tsuboike / Governor’s Office)

LYNN – Thursday, June 19, 2014 – Governor Deval Patrick today joined immigrant entrepreneurs and community members from across the Commonwealth to celebrate their successes in driving the Commonwealth’s economic growth and proclaimed June 15 – July 15, 2014 as Immigrant Entrepreneurship Month. The event, held at the New American Center in Lynn, included first-hand accounts from immigrant entrepreneurs who have found success in Massachusetts, and musical presentations from refugees.

"Our immigrant communities have always been an integral part of our state’s economic and cultural fabric," said Governor Patrick. "I am proud to recognize the hard work of our immigrant entrepreneurs who have made Massachusetts home, and whose achievements help keep us in the leadership business.”

Immigrants compose nearly 20 percent of the state’s workforce. Under the Patrick Administration, the state’s Office of Refugees and Immigrants (ORI) has increased access to services including education, employment, housing and citizenship for more than 32,000 refugees and immigrants. In partnership with providers across the Commonwealth, ORI has helped refugees and immigrants participate in the Commonwealth’s larger economic growth. The federal Office of Refugee Resettlement's 2014 annual employment outcome report ranked Massachusetts third in the nation in employment of refugees.

“Immigrants and refugees are a driving force in our state’s economy and the Patrick Administration has consistently supported this community,” said ORI Executive Director Josiane Martinez. “These dedicated men and women bring with them a wealth of unique knowledge and skills that make the Commonwealth a richer and more diverse place to live.”

Governor Patrick was joined by officials from ORI, the Department of Public Health’s Refugee and Immigrant Health Program, the Massachusetts Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition (MIRA), the New American Center, House of the Russian Community Association, Congolese Development Center, Southern Sudanese Solidarity Organization, Refugee and Immigrant Assistance Center, Bosnian Center for Resource Development, International Institute of Boston local leaders, new Americans and immigrant and refugee organizations at Thursday’s event. 

The proclamation Immigrant Entrepreneurship Month recognizes the vital role that immigrants have in the Commonwealth’s strong economic growth, continued job creation and maintaining its innovative edge, as well as the social and cultural contributions that advance the quality of life in Massachusetts and around the nation. Massachusetts ranks eighth in the nation for newcomers, with an immigrant population that represents over 14 percent of the population. Latino and Asian-owned businesses alone employ over 50,000 Massachusetts residents, with sales of over $7 billion.

“Lynn has been home to many immigrants who have launched their new homes from here,” said Lynn Mayor Judith Flanagan Kennedy. “We have witnessed the successes of individuals such as Fitzroy Alexander, who, in search of the American Dream, came to the United States from Grenada. Working his way up from a job as a dishwasher, he planned and built a bread factory that has become a landmark here in this city and an invaluable source of new jobs. It is our hope that with increased access to education, employment and housing services, an even greater number of immigrant entrepreneurs will realize their dreams.”

Last month, the Patrick Administration announced a federal grant to enhance vocational, educational and citizenship assistance to refugees and immigrants across the Commonwealth. The nearly $400,000 grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) will place 90 AmeriCorps members across Massachusetts who will provide training and support to over 5,000 refugees and immigrants over the next three years.

In April, Governor Patrick announced an economic development package that provides new tools and training so the Commonwealth’s workforce is prepared to meet the needs of employers, invests in its Gateway Cities to promote development across the entire state and provides incentives to create jobs and stimulate the economy. The Governor’s bill, An Act to Promote Growth and Opportunity, builds on the Administration’s proven growth strategy of investing in education, innovation and infrastructure that has led to record job creation in Massachusetts and made the Commonwealth a global leader in key innovation economy sectors.

As part of his bill, the Governor announced the creation of a Global Entrepreneur in Residence Program to retain and attract entrepreneurs who are growing companies and creating jobs in the state. The program will allow qualified, highly skilled, international students currently in Massachusetts to stay here after graduation if they are starting or growing a business. Administered by the Mass Tech Collaborative, the program will place selected students – who are eligible for H-1B visas but unable to get them due to a federal cap – as “entrepreneurs in residence” at public and private institutions and will ensure that they continue to contribute to the Massachusetts economy.

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