In this episode of the RLC Voice of Business, Steve Cox and Nick Smith interview their coworkers at the Chamber who also happen to be immigrants to the U.S. – Geovanny Sarmiento, SVP of Community Engagement and Inclusion, Mariana Osorio, Community Engagement and Inclusion Manager, and Nyasha Bgoni, Marketing Communications Manager.
America, as most of our listeners know, is a country full of immigrants. Not just in modern society, but historically the United States has both welcomed and depended upon immigrants to supplement our workforce, increase our economic success, and add to the diverse melting pot that is American culture. In fact, a George Mason University study confirmed that immigrants fuel entrepreneurship in the US being more likely to start a business than native-born Americans.
In Northwest Arkansas, that diverse culture is immediately evident just driving down the road. New family-owned restaurants, ethnic grocery stores, expanded sports offerings such as cricket at our community centers, and multi-lingual recreational services from cooking classes to yoga are all across the NWA region. This is all illustrated in the numbers as well –
By the numbers: The population of Northwest Arkansas (Benton, Washington, and Madison counties) went from being about 95% white in 1990 to nearly 71% in 2021.
The second-largest group is Latino, which makes up 17% of the population, up from 1% in 1990. The total population (of ALL peoples) has increased by 20% since 2010 — from about 463,200 to 555,480.
The Rogers Lowell Chamber is proud of the strides our community has taken to not only be inviting but also inclusive to the folks moving here, whether they be from one of the coasts or Latin America. We were proud to be the first Chamber in NWA to include a Minority Business Development position over a decade ago and continue to advance our Social Equity and Inclusion offerings as time goes on. Currently, we happen to have 3 immigrants on staff at the Chamber, and they are here with us today to talk about their different experiences as immigrants to our area, and what they do to help bring business and community together as staff members with the Chamber today!