City leaders announce plan to make community more welcoming for immigrants

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Cedar Rapids city leaders are unveiled plans on Wednesday to create a more welcoming community for immigrants.

People listen to a presentation of proposals for Gateways for Growth in Cedar Rapids on Wednesday, Dec. 4, 2019 (Jackie Kennon/KCRG)

Cedar Rapids is one of 14 communities participating in an initiative called Gateways for Growth. After months of work, organization members came up with three main focus areas: creating a welcoming community, addressing workforce and education challenges, and supporting business development.

Gateway for Growth leaders said helping immigrants and refugees feel safe is an economic, cultural, and moral imperative.

“When people come for economic opportunity, they stay because they feel welcomed, and they put down roots, their children become part of the community, and they become part of the community,” Molly Hilligoss, Welcoming America Midwest regional manager, said.

A New American Economy study indicates that 47 percent of population growth in Cedar Rapids over the past five years was from immigrants.