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Immigration to St. Louis has helped prevent decline. But increasing it is complicated.

St. Louis officials crafted a strategy to help increase population through foreign-born residents and retaining international students.
Credit: DILIP VISHWANAT | SLBJ

ST. LOUIS — Among the dozens of job openings at The Ritz-Carlton hotel in Clayton, General Manager Amanda Joiner needed an employee to handle payroll.

So when Betsy Cohen told her she knew a refugee from Afghanistan in the St. Louis area with a finance background, Joiner jumped at the opportunity to give Valy Sediqi an interview. Cohen is executive director of the St. Louis Mosaic Project, which connects foreign-born newcomers with resources including job openings.

Sediqi worked for American security officials in Kabul, Afghanistan, and worried about retaliation from the Taliban as the U.S. government pulled out of the war-torn country. He got the job at The Ritz-Carlton.

“We’re just honored to have him,” Joiner said.

The hiring of Sediqi is one aspect of the strategy crafted by St. Louis officials to help increase population through foreign-born residents. In addition to relocating refugees, the effort includes trying to attract and retain international students and helping foreign-born people acclimate when corporations hire or transfer them here.

The region’s strategy to attract foreign-born residents has helped blunt population loss. A Business Journal analysis found that from 2010 to 2019, the number of U.S.-born residents declined by about 20,000, but the number of foreign-born residents increased by nearly 10,000.

The Mosaic Project has set a goal of being the fastest-growing metro for foreign-born residents in 2025. The goal includes adding 25,000 foreign-born residents by that same year against a baseline of 2016, which will require adding about 3,000 residents a year. 

Read the full story on the St. Louis Business Journal website.

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