December 7, 2023
Today, the City of South Bend, the South Bend-Elkhart Regional Partnership, and Welcoming Michiana of United Religious Community launched the South Bend Regional Welcoming Plan, along with a data report on the economic impacts of New Americans in the region.
“South Bend is a welcoming city, and our Welcoming Plan aims to ensure all residents of South Bend can thrive,” said Mayor James Mueller. “This data report highlights the importance of our new neighbors to the vibrancy of our City,”
The Welcoming Plan outlines the goals to improve the sense of safety, belonging, and access to opportunity for New Americans in South Bend. These goals were identified by local New Americans and by organizations serving them through working groups, surveys, and listening sessions.
“The South Bend – Elkhart region is stronger because of our new American neighbors,” said Bethany Hartley, President and CEO of the South Bend – Elkhart Regional Partnership. “In 2019, immigrant residents contributed $3.8 billion to the region’s GDP or 9.0% of the total for the year, although they made up 6.9% of the population. Immigrants are critical to our area’s population growth, so we were grateful to the Gateways for Growth grant to better understand their experience.”
Key Highlights from the data report include:
- In St. Joseph County, 87.2% of population growth was attributed to New Americans between 2014-2019
- In the city of South Bend alone, New American households in 2019 held 9.3% of all spending power in the city despite comprising just 7.8% of the population.
- New Americans in South Bend contributed 10.1% or $686.4 million of the city’s total GDP in 2019.
“The Welcoming Michiana program strongly believes that these plans will build on the South Bend Region’s capacity as a place where New Americans can access opportunity, feel safe and believe that they truly belong,” said John Pinter, Executive Director of United Religious Community. “The URC’s work helping refugees resettle in this community will be greatly enhanced by the plans created.”
The Welcoming Plan and Data Report can be viewed online here.
The City and Welcoming Michiana, a program of United Religious Community of St. Joseph County, were awarded a Gateways for Growth grant for the second time in 2023 from Welcoming America and the American Immigration Council. The grant provides economic impact data of immigrants in the region and technical assistance in producing an welcoming plan for New Americans.