Bowling Green named Gateways for Growth awardee due to immigrants’ economic impact

A new research report sponsored by Gateways for Growth has shed light on the economic and demographic impact of immigrants in Warren County, and today the Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce held a press conference to share the findings from the study.

Bowling Green has been named one of 25 cities as a Gateway for Growth awardee for the major impacts of "New Americans" in Bowling Green.

"Being down here at the Chamber of Commerce basically honoring your hard work means a lot," said Victor Puga, a Mexican immigrant who has lived and worked in Bowling Green for several years now.

Puga is one of the 9.3% of New Americans that make up the Warren County population, and thanks to this new research study, city leaders have a better understanding of the positive economic differences these immigrants are making in Bowling Green and the surrounding areas.

"We now have a snapshot of what that change means, what that change looks like, what the characteristics of that change are, of those that now call Bowling Green home," said Bowling Green Director of Neighborhood and Community Services Brent Childers.

In 2016, foreign-born residents in Warren County contributed $564.3 million, or 9.5%, to the county’s GDP, an impact the county is looking to build upon in the years to come.

"Now that we have this information, how do we develop partnerships," Childers said. "How do we continue the economic growth of Bowling Green and Warren County, and how do we capitalize on the success of New Americans that call Bowling Green-Warren County home."

Puga’s company Premiere Roofing is one of the many immigrant owned companies in Bowling Green that have led to economic prosperity in the community, something he attributes to working hard every day of his life.

"When I looked back and I see it’s been so many years, I never thought I was going to achieve the dream," Puga said. "It’s all mental will. I think will of the person–if you’re willing to do that sacrifice every single day you get there. And that’s why I’m there."

Some of the other findings in the study include:

  • New Americans contributed over $64 million in total taxes in 2016, of which $43 million went to federal taxes and $21.1 million went to state and local taxes. New Americans households were left with $170.6 million in spending power.
  • New Americans were responsible for 32.2% of the total population growth in Warren County between 2011 and 2016. Over those five years, the population in the county increased by 15.4%, while the New Americans population increased by 86.6%.
  • Despite making up just 9.3% of the overall population, New Americans represented more than their share of working-age population and the employed labor force in 2016. Foreign-born workers represented 10.7% of Warren County’s working-page population and 10.3% of its employed labor force that year.
  • New Americans play a critical role in several key industries in the county, making up significant shares of key industries in 2016. Foreign-born workers made up 23.7% of all workers in manufacturing, as well as 20.8% of the transportation and warehouse industry and 7.8% of the education industry.
  • Over one-third of immigrants and refugees in the county–or over 3,700 individuals–were naturalized citizens in 2016. 18.8% of the non-citizen population were likely eligible to naturalize.