The desire for familiar food, clothing, and other products from home is spurring refugee communities in upstate New York to start their own businesses. In response, a group in Rochester has organized a six-week startup business training course to help the Somali refugee community navigate the process.
“They can actually create their own little local economy where they can exchange, similar to what they had in Somalia,” says David Dey, president and CEO of the Institute for Social Entrepreneurship.
The Innovation Trail is looking at how refugees have weaved their way into upstate New York's changing economy.
On a recent fall day, community health nurse Sarah Miner is welcomed warmly into the home of Somali refugee Abdalla. Miner works with HCR Home Care in Rochester and she’s been visiting Abdalla and his family for a while now.
Upstate New York cities take in around 90 percent of all current refugee resettlements in the state. All this week, The Innovation Trail is taking a look at how that diverse population has weaved its way into the region’s changing economy.
In Buffalo, a handful of students from countries all over the world are sitting in a class at Journey’s End Refugee Services. They are learning how to become janitors for local businesses. The group nods as a student explains an assignment to them.
Since 2004, upstate New York has taken 90 percent of all refugee resettlements in the state.This is the first part of the Innovation Trail reporting series looking at how upstate New York's refugee population is influencing the region's economy.
Utica has long seen itself as a city of immigrants. The arrival of Italians, Germans and Irish drove the city’s population to peak at around 100,000. During the mid 1970sin the wake of major changes to the city's industrial base and dwindling employment opportunities, the population fell by nearly half.