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Press Release: GR Chamber Releases Economic Impact Report of New Americans in Kent County

New Report Shows Immigrants in Kent County Paid Over $408 Million in Taxes and held $1.3 Billion in Spending Power in 2019

Immigrants contributed $5.0 billion, or 9.1 percent, of the county’s GDP in 2019.

Kent County, MI, September 11, 2023A new report, Economic Impact Report of New Americans in Kent County, released today by the American Immigration Council—in partnership with the Grand Rapids Chamber, underscores the crucial role immigrants play in the region’s labor force, business creation, and consumer spending power.

Between 2014 and 2019, the population of Kent County increased by 5.2 percent, and the immigrant population grew by 27.2 percent, with 38.2 percent of the total population growth in the county being attributable to immigrants. Despite making up 8.9 percent of the county’s overall population in 2019, immigrants represented 10.5 percent of its employed labor force. In 2021 alone, immigrants in the county held $1.6 billion in spending power, paid $318.8 million in federal taxes, and paid $173.9 million in state and local taxes.

This new report was released as part of an initiative to drive economic prosperity for the region through immigration. The Chamber’s West Michigan CEO Council presented the report to a gathering of business leaders at the start of Welcoming Week with the American Immigration Council. As part of the Gateway for Growth initiative, with stakeholders from across the community, the report provides an updated snapshot of the demographic and economic contributions of immigrants in the area.

“We are excited to unveil this new report during Welcoming Week,” said Nate Koetje, CEO, Feyen Zylstra. “The West Michigan CEO Council, inspired by the Kent County Welcome Plan, is working to provide leadership on immigration and inspire the business community and policymakers to look at immigration as a force for good and a real solution to workforce needs.”

“To create more awareness of how immigration benefits West Michigan, we are excited to release this report on our foreign born population’s role as contributors to the workforce, economy, and as drivers of population,” continued Koetje.

“We know that migrant workers and immigrants are key to industries such as agriculture, hospitality, mass market production, and more. With this report, there is no doubt that our economy wouldn’t work without them,” said Eloy Garza, CEO, Garza & Sons. “This data helps to make the case to a broader audience as we work to support a growing West Michigan.”

“Talent and population growth are top issues for business,” said Rick Baker, President & CEO of the Grand Rapids Chamber. “Cities and regions do not grow without immigration. Led by our CEO Council, this report will drive initiatives, support a thriving West Michigan and drive our economy and community forward.”

“This report shows the crucial role that immigrants in Kent County play in invigorating key local sectors and driving growth in Kent County and across the region,” said Asma Easa, manager of state and local initiatives at the American Immigration Council. “The Chamber’s efforts to encourage policymakers and the business community to embrace immigration as a way to meet talent needs and boost the population in West Michigan ensures that the region can continue to invest in the community’s future.”

The new research report, Economic Impact Report of New Americans in Kent County, finds:

  • Immigrants are helping the county meet its labor force demands. In 2019, immigrants were 27.3 percent more likely to be of working age than their U.S.-born counterparts, allowing them to actively participate in the labor force and contribute to the economy as taxpayers and consumers.
  • Immigrants support the federal safety net. In 2021, they contributed $192.3 million to Social Security and $47.8 million to Medicare.
  • Immigrants are helping Kent County meet its rising labor needs in key industries. While making up 8.9 percent of the county’s overall population in 2019, immigrants represented 53.1 percent of agriculture workers, 15.3 percent of construction workers, and 14.8 percent of transportation and warehouse workers.
  • Immigrants in Kent County help create or preserve local manufacturing jobs. Immigrants strengthened the local job market by allowing companies to keep jobs on U.S. soil, helping preserve or create 2,600 local manufacturing jobs that would have otherwise been eliminated or moved elsewhere by 2019.

Read the full research brief here.

About the American Immigration Council

The American Immigration Council works to strengthen America by shaping how America thinks about and acts towards immigrants and immigration and by working toward a more fair and just immigration system that opens its doors to those in need of protection and unleashes the energy and skills that immigrants bring. The Council brings together problem solvers and employs four coordinated approaches to advance change—litigation, research, legislative and administrative advocacy, and communications. In January 2022, the Council and New American Economy merged to combine a broad suite of advocacy tools to better expand and protect the rights of immigrants, more fully ensure immigrants’ ability to succeed economically, and help make the communities they settle in more welcoming. Follow the latest Council news and information on ImmigrationImpact.com and Twitter @immcouncil.

 

About the Grand Rapids Chamber

The Grand Rapids Chamber leads the business community in creating a dynamic, top-of-mind West Michigan region. Together with over 2,500 member businesses (80% of which are small businesses with fewer than 50 employees), we work to expand the influence, access, and information required to actively encourage entrepreneurial growth and community leadership. We offer the connections, resources, and insights needed to develop strong leaders, engage a diverse workforce, foster an inclusive and welcoming community, and advance a vibrant business environment that nurtures economic prosperity for all. Learn more at www.grandrapids.org.

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