(Commentary from St. Louis Mosaic Project Executive Director Betsy Cohen)
The St. Louis region should be proud of the 2015 American Community Survey data that showed our region being No. 1 in the country for the fastest growing foreign-born population.
The St. Louis Mosaic Project, which serves as a division of the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership, was established in 2013. Its goal, by the 2020 U.S. Census, is to push our region’s foreign-born population to the fastest growing of any major metro area in the U.S. The Mosaic Project was also designed to promote population and economic growth in the region — and we are certainly on our way.
In 2014, federal data showed 118,936 foreign-born people lived in the St. Louis area (overall population of approximately 2.8 million). In 2015, that number jumped to 129,559 for an increase of more than 10,000 people and 8.9 percent.
This increase in population is comprised of international business leaders, faculty and international students at our many universities, immigrant entrepreneurs and many people in our service industries. In 2015, approximately 625 of the newcomers here were refugees (and just 39 were Syrians, mostly families with 3-6 children). The most rewarding part is our steering committee of 27 community leaders, 100+ partner organizations, Mosaic Ambassador individuals, schools and companies which have created a regional movement that is attracting more people to come to St. Louis.
They will make our neighborhoods more lively, create businesses and jobs, develop new technologies and bring new foods to us. It’s one thing to bring people here, but our next challenge is to keep up the welcoming behavior so that we retain those who come. And, we want these newcomers to become raving fans of our region and encourage their friends and families to join them here.
Our ethnic groups, cultural groups, religious groups and work organizations can develop plans that allow us to have people of all ethnicities thrive in St. Louis. Our most-recent No. 1 ranking shows we can attract newcomers at a great rate. Now, we must work together to retain our newest members of the St. Louis community so more will follow.
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