Dayton, Ohio is getting to be known as the “immigrant friendly” city which has taken the initiative to create programs that attract newcomers and encourage those who are already there. The past two years of their efforts have paid off tremendously as they show off their new thriving economy and immigrant communities.
Just two years ago, Dayton was fighting through industrial decline with a struggling economy. Now, they have become a magnet for immigrants and the city is thriving. Northern Dayton’s landscape used to consist of vacant and foreclosed homes that needed much work. Currently. there are over 400 Turkish families living there with new roofs, white picket fences and freshly painted porches. This is the sign of urban renewal thanks to a new thriving immigrant population. “We want to invest in the places where we are accepted better,” said Islom Shakhbandarov, a Turkish immigrant leader. “And we are accepted better in Dayton.”
Other cities across the country such as St. Louis and Kansas City are also working with highly skilled and low-wage workers to restart growth in their neighborhoods. Officials in many failing cities met in Detroit to discuss ways to help their cities through immigration. The new welcoming sentiments for immigrants show a shift in public opinion as Americans agree that immigrants could help the economy-even those here illegally. Most of the Turks living in Dayton are Russian refugees. Shakhbandarov went to Dayton’s Mayor, Gary Leitzell, and asked about his thoughts of asking more Turkish immigrants to settle in the city.
“I said, the worst thing that could happen is that 4,000 Turkish families could come to Dayton and fix up 4,000 houses,” the mayor recalled. “So how do we facilitate their success?” Dayton is another city to add to the list of those that have seen their economy and communities turned completely around. St. Louis is just beginning the process of running a program in support of immigration that will hopefully attract a large number of immigrants to recreate the success that happened in Ohio.
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