Work to create Culturally Enriched Communities which are an inherent part of planning processes that strengthen an area’s ability to plan for the growth in diversity in ways that can position the region to rank among the best in world while improving upon indicators of disparities.
Understand the data and the opportunity for economic growth
Positioning the state for a vibrant and prosperous future is tied to demographic projections that by 2040 according the Metropolitan Council projections, close to 40% of Minnesota’s population will be people of color, many of them international immigrants.
Why is this important to the future of cities and regions? Minnesota’s foreign-born residents are a significant and growing economic force, contributing as employers, workers, consumers, and taxpayers. Studies have concluded that the economic benefits of immigration to the region outweighed the costs by a ratio of about 2 to 1.
The success of immigrant entrepreneurs is important to the long term success of their communities. Businesses can help immigrants integrate into the community, contribute to economic growth, create social solidarity within the immigrant community, and provide upward mobility for the second generation.
Immigrants and diverse businesses can spearhead economic development as employers, consumers, taxpayers, and workers.
The evidence for employers
In the US, 40 percent of Fortune 500 companies were founded by immigrants or their children–18% (or 90) of the 500 companies had immigrant founders while the children of immigrants started another 114 companies. Placing these figures within the context of the foreign-born population of the United States averaging 10.5% since 1850, means immigrant entrepreneurs are overrepresented on the list of founders of Fortune 500 companies. As the Partnership for a New American Economy report notes, “The revenue generated by Fortune 500 companies founded by immigrants or children of immigrants is greater than the GdP (gross domestic product) of every country in the world outside the U.S., except China and Japan”. These Fortune 500 companies had combined revenues of $4.2 trillion in 2010, $1.7 trillion which from immigrant founded companies.
Impact on consumers and taxpayers
Across the US, immigrants have collectively added $3.7 trillion to US housing wealth and account for 17% of the new demand for housing and 33% of the new demand for rental units according a 2013 study by the Council of the Americas and Partnership for a New American Economy. In MN, immigrants have an estimated $5 billion in purchasing power according to a 2013 study by Minnesota Chamber and Concordia University. Combined, aLaNa, which stands for african, Latino, asian and Native american (aLaNa) have $12 billion dollars in Consumer Power. Both urban and rural areas benefit from the economic development spurred by immigrants. In south-central Minnesota, Latinos added nearly $500 million to the economy through their labor contributions, their spending as consumers, and the increased demand by employers for regionally supplied goods and services.
Immigrant-owned businesses account for approximately 3% of Minnesota’s businesses and employ approximately 21,000 workers, generating sales and receipts of $2.2 billion. In 2002, there were 7,700 asian businesses and almost 4,000 Hispanic businesses operating throughout the state. The St. Paul Neighborhood Development Center reports that, as of 2002, 138 immigrant-owned businesses had created 386 new jobs, and spent $5.6 million on payroll, rent, supplies and other expenses.
Most of Minnesota’s foreign-born residents are working-age adults between the ages of 18 and 65 who counterbalance the trend of Minnesota’s general population toward a greater proportion of older adults who are not of working age. In terms of education and skills, immigrant workers are concentrated at the very-low and very-high skill ends of the spectrum: 27% of the state’s foreign-born adults lack a high school degree (compared to just 9% of native-born adults), while 32% hold a 4-year college, graduate, or professional degree (compared to 31% of the native-born population). The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce reports that many of the state’s low-skill immigrants are currently working labor intensive, low-paying jobs in agriculture, manufacturing, and a variety of service industries. The Chamber is concerned that without an expanded immigrant labor force, key industries will be unable to find the workers they need. Minnesota’s Department of Employment and Economic Development also projects that the industries expected to see the most growth between 2006 and 2016 are concentrated in both high-skill and low-skill fields.
Support culturally enriched communities
The creation of Culturally Enriched Communities relies on planners, policy leaders, housing developers, and others who feel an obligation to understand those they are working with and are interested in the lives of others. Professionals working toward Culturally Enriched Communities are willing to move beyond the basics, the comfortable, and the familiar to understand the people they are working with as individuals who change and evolve as they move through their lives. These professionals consider the impact of the designed environment on the construction of marginalization and difference — from limiting the types of foods one can eat, to the relationships one can form, the dress he/she can wear, traditions the family can practice and pass down, and aspirations for the future.
Read more about how to support Culturally Enriched Communities.
Include implementation of culturally enriched principles into policies and plans.
Community development programs that are committed to the eight Principles of Culturally Enriched Communities consider choice, understand diverse perspective, develop plans and policies and act as agents of change. Evaluating the eight Principles of Culturally Enriched Communities will position your community to embrace new cultures and tap into the value that they bring in contributing to the community, building new businesses, creating healthy environments and becoming more economically competitive.
- Foster partnerships and create synergies among stakeholders that range from policy makers, designers, and planners to business and community leaders, institutions, and community members.
- Use community engagement to strengthen the values and unique character of a given region and community at levels that include homes, neighborhoods, cities, the region, and the state.
- Bridge the local and the global, enabling residents to retain their global connections and build economically thriving communities.
- Celebrate the diverse histories, traditions, backgrounds, and meaning-making practices of the many people that comprise a community.
- Create opportunities for people of diverse backgrounds to interact with each other in meaningful ways, helping break down stereotypes and challenge assumptions.
- Support the health and well-being of everyone, accounting for the diverse ways by which humans cook, eat, sleep, socialize, dress, pray, recreate, exercise, etc. and for the needs of people of all ages, races, abilities, ethnic backgrounds, and socio-economic status.
- Strengthen job and educational opportunities that bring about equality and social justice and enhance the economic prospects of an area.
- Recognize that an open mind is crucial for innovation to flourish. This often implies exploring new ideas and new ways of doing things.
Encourage and allow development of culturally sensitive homes
Culturally Sensitive Design (CSD) is design that is flexible and adaptable to respond to diverse ways of living and being in the world. CSD is about inclusion, not exclusion. This idea is relevant to the continuum of design settings, from home interiors to community planning.
To learn more about culturally-sensitive homes, click here.
For more information visit Housing Counts.