The City of Bowling Green unveiled a new plan Tuesday aimed at building more inclusive communities that are economically vibrant for refugees and immigrants.
The “Welcoming Plan” aims to create a stronger economy, provide safer and more connected communities, and promote resources for New American residents. “New Americans” are defined as any foreign-born person living in the region regardless of immigration status.
Leyda Becker is Bowling Green’s International Community Liason and helped put the strategic plan together. She said refugees and immigrants kept telling her about the challenges they faced finding local jobs.
“Many of these individuals were having to commute, and have to commute long distances for employment outside of the region, county and even the state,” she said.
Becker said a lot of these newly-arrived Bowling Green residents come to her with ideas for their own business. The strategic plan unveiled Tuesday includes a focus on entrepreneurship. More than eight percent of Warren County’s entrepreneurs in 2016 were immigrants.
Some of the 22 recommendations in the plan include encouraging pathways for new arrivals to learn a trade, enhancing civic engagement, and improving the accessibility of public parks to support cultural events. It also recommends connecting people with foreign-earned credentials to state licensures, and a path to earn the necessary credentials in the United States.
Bowling Green is one of thirteen communities nationwide to be selected for a “Gateways to Growth” award from the group, New American Economy, which supported the creation of the plan.