New report: Local immigrants contributed $1.9 billion to GDP

ALLEN COUNTY, Ind. (ADAMS) – A new report, New Americans in Allen Countyreleased by the American Immigration Council—in partnership with Amani Family ServicesDowntown Fort Wayne, and Greater Fort Wayne Inc.—is underscoring the large role immigrants play in the region’s labor force, business creation, and consumer spending power.

The new report shows that between 2014 and 2019, the population of Allen County increased by 3.3 percent while the immigrant population grew by 12.6 percent, with 24.0 percent of the total population growth in the county attributable to immigrants. This means that population growth would have been slower without immigrants moving to the county.

 In 2019 alone, immigrants in the county held $496.0 million in spending power and paid $99.1 million in federal taxes and $61.8 million in state and local taxes. Despite making up 6.8 percent of the county’s total population in 2019, immigrants represented 8.8 percent of its working-age population, 7.8 percent of its employed labor force, and 5.4 percent of its science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) workers in 2019.

Downtown Fort Wayne released the following:

The new report was awarded to Amani Family ServicesDowntown Fort Wayne, and Greater Fort Wayne Inc. as part of the Gateways for Growth Challenge, a competitive opportunity for localities to receive research support and/or technical assistance from the American Immigration Council and Welcoming America to improve immigrant inclusion in their communities.

To kick off Welcoming Weeka presentation on the report is scheduled for September 11 at 3:30 p.m. at the Allen County Public Library – Main. Greater Fort Wayne, Inc. will utilize the new data for a panel discussion on inclusive workforce development during its annual Economic Development Summit on September 13 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Amani Family Services will present the report at the annual Welcoming Fort Wayne Awards on September 15 from 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m.

“Amani has been dedicated to advancing priorities around welcoming and inclusion for the past 17 years as an agency,” said Amani CEO, Ewelina Connolly. “This critical data allows us to amplify the voices of those we serve and care about. We view this as an opportunity to make an incredible impact on our community.”

“As we work towards advancing Downtown Fort Wayne as the vibrant, urban core of northeast Indiana, making the heart of our region more welcoming to new employees, residents and businesses is simply good practice,” said Michael Galbraith, president of Downtown Fort Wayne. “Our unparalleled growth as a city and region depends on increasing growth, prosperity and diversity for new and existing residents.”

“This research highlights the important contributions of foreign-born residents in Allen County. Locally, immigrants account for about 12,000 members of the workforce, 1,300 entrepreneurs and small business owners, and 1,500 college students,” said Ellen Cutter, chief economic development officer at Greater Fort Wayne Inc. “We are building a nationally recognized economy in Fort Wayne and Allen County, and newcomers play an important role in our community’s success.”

“Immigrants are helping to fill critical roles across Allen County, including in industries like manufacturing, transportation, and agriculture,” said Micaela McConnell, senior policy associate of state and local initiatives at the American Immigration Council. “As the multi-sector strategic planning efforts are underway, the community is taking important strides to ensure that the region is welcoming to all newcomers and that every community member can thrive.”

“Through programs like Gateways for Growth, we’ve seen the widespread benefits to entire communities when immigrants are able to contribute fully, particularly as entrepreneurs, workers in key industries, neighbors, and community leaders. Allen County is just one example of how immigrant inclusion is part of the recipe for sustainable population and economic growth,” said Molly Hilligoss, network director of Welcoming America.

“Many places consider themselves welcoming to immigrants, but not all will undergo the work it takes to build an inclusive infrastructure to ensure their success,” said Briana Broberg, Midwest regional manager for Welcoming America. “In working with Allen County, it is apparent that community leaders view immigrant success as success for all. We look forward to continuing working with them on strengthening this infrastructure.”

The new research report, New Americans in Allen County, finds:

  • Immigrants are helping the county meet its labor force demands. In 2019, immigrants were 32.3 percent more likely to be of working age than their U.S.-born counterparts.
  • Immigrants support the federal safety net. Immigrants contributed $65.3 million to Social Security and $17.4 million to Medicare in Allen County in 2019.
  • Immigrants are helping Allen County meet its rising labor needs in key industries. While making up 6.8 percent of the county’s overall population in 2019, immigrants represented 13.5 percent of manufacturing workers, 12.3 percent of construction workers, and 8.3 percent of hospitality workers.
  • Immigrants play a significant role in the county as entrepreneurs. Immigrants represented 9.9 percent of business owners in Allen County in 2019. About 1,300 immigrant entrepreneurs generated $37.9 million in business income for the county.


Read the full research brief at the Council’s website.


Downtown Fort Wayne and Greater Fort Wayne Inc. received a portion of funding for Gateways for Growth from St. Joseph Community Health Foundation to offset the organizations’ matching efforts.