Building a Prosperous Michiana by Welcoming Immigrants


Making Michiana Great Again

South Bend, IN – On Thursday, August 16, 2018 from 5:30 – 6:30 pm a public meeting will be held at Wiekamp Hall, Indiana University-South Bend in the DW 1001  auditorium on the topic “Immigrants: Strengthening Michiana.”  The event is sponsored by the Community Coalition for Immigration Reform.  Speakers will include both economic development and immigration experts.

Since the founding of South Bend, immigrants have had a powerful, positive effect on the community providing labor that fueled the growth of the Region.  In the 21st century, we need to continue to welcome immigrants to be part of the rebuilding of the Region.

In the early 1960’s, South Bend reached its peak population of approximately 132,000 with factories pumping out cars (Studebaker), cabinets for Singer sewing machines, tennis shoes (Ball Band), automobile braking systems (Bendix) and much more.  In those factories were immigrants of diverse ethnic backgrounds; radio programs in Hungarian and Polish were heard every Sunday.  Then the factories started to close.

By 2016, South Bend’s population had declined to 101,037 with immigrants making up over 8% of the population; indeed without immigrants, the population would have continued to decline. Between 2011 and 2016, the U.S. born population declined 2.3%, while the foreign born population grew.

Like many communities in the rustbelt, Michiana is rebuilding.  In 2016 the Region’s total population was over 720,000 with immigrants making up 6.3% of the population.  These immigrants earned over $1.2 billion, paid $212.8 million in federal taxes and $103 million in state and local taxes, leaving them with $808.3 million in spending power.

Who are these immigrants?  They are important to the local economy.  They make up 8.2% of the working-age population.  They are extremely important in specific sectors of the economy:

– 24.3% agriculture

– 11% manufacturing

– 9.5% education

– 9.1% hospitality & recreation

– 8% healthcare

Immigrant stories are diverse.  They include people who have founded businesses large and small.

– KemKrest – logistics firm with over 400 employees founded by Satish Shah

– Chimichurri – Argentinian restaurant founded by Dario & Mabel Migliaro

– InterCambio Express – international money transfer service provider founded by Isaac Torres

– Mango Café – Venezuelan restaurant founded by Mario Mendez

– Aunalytics – big data firm founded by Nitesh Chawla

Immigrants are contributing in many ways, a few examples:

– Santiago Garces, originally of Bolivia is the chief innovation officer of the City of South Bend

– Rafat & Zoreen Ansari, originally of Pakistan, founded the Sonya Ansari Center for Autism

– Husam Abdulameer, originally from Iraq, rehabilitating distressed homes, one at a time

Immigrants include DACA recipients who came here as children, went to school here and want to serve the community.  Until recently, there were barriers.  In fact, Indiana licensing laws excluded DACA recipients from getting licenses in many professions.  Indeed, nursing students who were raised and educated in Indiana couldn’t work here – they could in Michigan.  Indiana saw a “brain drain.”  In 2018, groups working together changed laws to allow DACA recipients to work in Indiana.

The Indiana state government says that we “want to bring Indiana to the world and the world to Indiana.”  To help immigrants prosper in Michiana, and grow local economies, we need to remove barriers – this is an important step in “making Michiana great again.”

Click to View the Report on Immigrant Economic Contributions to Michiana

Meeting Details:
Date & Time: August 16, 2018 from 5:30 – 6:30 p.m.
Location: Wiekamp Hall, Indiana University-South Bend in the DW 1001 Auditorium
Meeting Contact: Joe Carbone, Community Coalition for Immigration Reform, or 574 292 8137