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Updated: April 10, 2024

New Americans play ‘crucial role’ in economy of Androscoggin County, report says

smiling person in front of banner PROVIDED PHOTO A report on immigrants’ economic impact in Androscoggin County includes a profile on Amran Osman, founder and executive director of Lewiston nonprofit Generational Noor.

Immigrants to Maine have become a key to solving demographic challenges in recent years, bolstering the state's workforce, building businesses and supporting economic vitality.

No wonder that Gov. Janet Mills has a plan in the works to establish an Office of New Americans within the state government, with the goal of better coordinating the economic and civic integration of immigrants in Maine.

A report released last week supports that positive view of immigration.

“New Americans in Androscoggin County” says immigrants play a “crucial role” in the county’s labor force, business creation and consumer spending power, according to a news release.

The report was released last week by the American Immigration Council, a Washington, D.C., nonprofit advocacy group. It was commissioned by the University of Southern Maine’s Office of Equity, Inclusion and Community Impact and its Career and Employment Hub through the council’s Gateways for Growth program.

In 2019, more than 4,000 immigrants lived in Androscoggin County, accounting for 3.9% of the total population. Immigrants also represented 4.4% of the county’s working-age population and 3.6% of its employed labor force. 

Among other findings about Androscoggin County:

  • Immigrants are poised to contribute to the county’s economy across the skills spectrum; 27.6% of immigrants held a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to 22.3% of U.S.-born counterparts. 
  • 24.7% of immigrants had less than a high school education, compared to 9.8% of U.S.-born residents, uniquely positioning immigrants to fill jobs with and without degree requirements.
  • Immigrants accounted for 11.9% of the population growth in Androscoggin County between 2014 and 2019. 
  • Without immigrants moving to the county, the total population would have decreased by 0.5%. 
  • Immigrants contributed $8.6 million to Social Security and $2.3 million to Medicare.  
  • Immigrants helped preserve or create 200 local manufacturing jobs that would have otherwise been eliminated or moved elsewhere. 
  • Immigrants paid over $24 million in taxes and held over $74 million in spending power.

The report also features profiles of four community members:

  • Amran Osman is a Somalian immigrant who founded a Lewiston nonprofit called Generational Noor to help the immigrant understand and navigate substance use.
  • Bianca Arcencio, from Brazil, is a graduate assistant for USM’s Career and Employment Hub and English for Speakers of Other Languages Department.
  • Marwo Sougue, from Djibouti, is a senior-year nursing major at USM.
  • Prudent Ndihokubwayo, from Burundi, is a janitorial supervisor at USM and an aspiring writer.

“The research brief emphasizes the need for bilingual and culturally competent public service and healthcare workers in the county,” said Marina Chakmakchi, global talent navigator at USM’s Office of Equity, Inclusion and Community Impact. “To address this need, our Lewiston Auburn Campus offers an expanded range of health care-focused programs.”

Micaela McConnell, a senior policy associate at the American Immigration Council, said, “This report captures the crucial role that immigrants play in driving growth in Androscoggin County. By recognizing and harnessing the skills and talents of the county’s vibrant immigrant community and international students, the community is making an important investment in its future.”

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