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Reggae Fundraiser

Reggae Nite


Photo on top left: Professors Carol Clark (standing, left) and Janet Bauer (standing, right) lead a presentation to International Hartford leaders of student research on city’s immigrant population.

Photo on top right:  Students who researched the city’s immigrant community by canvassing ethnic shops, interviewing proprietors and patrons, listen to findings.

The last 2 photos are clients with their products:   Sarah with her delicious treats, and Amy, the grinning baker, with cookies and squares.

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Reggae Night at New Park Brewery

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Chef Garcia of Munchers cooking @ Reggae Night

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Don Minot and High Voltage Rock Reggae Night


Photo on top left: Professors Carol Clark (standing, left) and Janet Bauer (standing, right) lead a presentation to International Hartford leaders of student research on city’s immigrant population.

Photo on top right:  Students who researched the city’s immigrant community by canvassing ethnic shops, interviewing proprietors and patrons, listen to findings.

The last 2 photos are clients with their products:   Sarah with her delicious treats, and Amy, the grinning baker, with cookies and squares.

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Connecticut: Immigrant Entrepreneurs and Welcoming Initiatives in the Constitution State

CT_immigrants  In Connecticut, there is no doubt that immigrant entrepreneurs and innovators play an important role. Immigrant entrepreneurs bring in additional revenue, create jobs, and contribute significantly to the state’s economy. Highly skilled immigrants are vital to the state’s innovation industries and to the metropolitan areas within the state, helping to boost local economies. Furthermore, local government, business, and non-profit leaders recognize the importance of immigrants in their communities and support immigration through local “welcoming” and integration initiatives.

Immigrant entrepreneurs contribute significantly to Connecticut’s economy.

  • From 2006 to 2010, there were 31,320 new immigrant business owners in Connecticut and in 2010, 18.5 percent of all business owners in Connecticut were foreign-born.
  • In 2010, new immigrant business owners had a total net business income of $2 billion, which is 15 percent of all net business income in the state.
  • Connecticut is home to many successful companies with at least one founder who was an immigrant or child of an immigrant, including United Technologies Corporation, Pitney Bowes, General Electric, and Terex. Those four companies together employ over 550,600 people and bring in over $217 billion in revenue each year.

Highly skilled immigrants are vital to Connecticut’s innovation industries, which in turn helps lead American innovation and creates jobs.

  • Immigrants contribute to Connecticut’s economic growth and competitiveness by earning degrees in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields from the state’s research universities. In 2009, around 38 percent of STEM graduates earning masters or PhD degrees from these universities were foreign-born, and 68 percent of graduates earning PhDs in engineering in Connecticut were not born in the U.S.
  • In 2011, the U.S. Department of Labor certified 5,271 H-1B high-skilled visa labor certification applications in Connecticut, with an average annual wage of $72,199, which is within range of Connecticut’s median household income of $69,519, but higher than its per capita income of $37,807.
  • An expansion of the high-skilled visa program would create an estimated 6,600 new jobs in Connecticut by 2020. By 2045, this expansion would add around $2.2 billion to Gross State Product and increase personal income by more than $2 billion. The following are examples of metropolitan area demand for high-skilled foreign-born workers.
    • The Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford metropolitan area had 1,761 H-1B visa requests in 2010-2011, with 74.5 percent of H-1B visa-holders working in STEM occupations. Major employers with a need for H-1B high-skilled workers include the University of Connecticut, Larsen & Toubro Infotech Limited, Cognizant Technology Solutions, Infosays Technologies Limited, and Sagarsoft Inc.

While the numbers are compelling, they don’t tell the whole story.

  • Immigrant entrepreneurs not only contribute to large innovative companies, but also to small businesses in local communities. In cities across Connecticut, immigrant family-owned small businesses contribute to the vitality of their local communities. Although initially aimed at other immigrant customers, many businesses quickly see an expansion of their clientele to include a diverse array of immigrant and native-born customers alike.
  • In Hartford, Connecticut’s capital city, immigrants have been starting businesses since the city’s founding. From taco truck owners, to Asian grocers, to barbers from Bosnia, immigrant entrepreneurs and small business owners are helping to spark a revival in Hartford.
    • Hartford’s Park Street neighborhood, an approximately two-mile retail corridor running from Main Street to Prospect Avenue, contains a mix of restaurants, bodegas, clothing boutiques, grocery stores, jewelry stores, and other retail and service providers, many of which are immigrant-owned and operated.
  • In Danbury, the city’s Main Street and side roads are lined with immigrant-owned businesses, particularly from Central and South American points of origin. Locals have observed that “immigrant-owned businesses have helped the downtown survive at a time when many storefronts were empty.”
    • Luis Diaz, from Guatemala, opened Ortega’s Restaurant in downtown Danbury in 2012. Diaz says his restaurant specializes in many types of food to cater to Danbury’s diverse population. “We want to try to attract different people, like Americans, Spanish[-speaking] people, all different cultures. We have a little mix of everything,” he said.
  • In Norwich, immigrant-owned restaurants representing a breadth of national cuisines are representative of the city’s past and present immigration history. Bill Stanley, president of the Norwich Historical Society, said that these businesses “helped define the city” in the past,  and “today, in many respects…it’s happening still.”
    • In downtown Norwich, visitors can find “Peruvian, Pan-Asian, Irish and Italian cuisine all within walking distance,” Patrick McCormack of Uncas Health District stated. “You don’t have to drive to a certain section to get a certain kind of food.”
    • The Norwich Bulletin noted in 2007 that there is “a new wave of immigrant-owned businesses, run by families, springing up. It is especially apparent in the growing number of Chinese, Spanish, and Haitian-owned businesses in Norwich…These businesses can be the engine that helps Norwich continue to grow strong.”

In Connecticut, localities have begun recognizing and supporting immigration through “welcoming” and integration initiatives.

  • The American Place, an initiative of the Hartford Public Library and an affiliate of Welcoming America, is “designed to welcome immigrants and facilitate their transition into their new home city.”
    • The program provides services such as English and citizenship classes, resources for studying, and assistance with accessing immigration information. The Cultural Navigators program recruits and trains volunteers to mentor and tutor newcomers.
    • The White House recognized the work of The American Place by honoring its director, Homa Naficy, who herself is an immigrant from Iran, as a White House Champion of Change in June of 2013. The recognition spotlights the positive work Naficy and her initiative are doing for immigrant integration in the Hartford community.
  • International Hartford, formed in 2013, exists to support immigrant-owned businesses. Specifically, the organization assists immigrants, refugees, and their children start and expand businesses.
    • International Hartford helps potential immigrant entrepreneurs overcome barriers to starting a business. Milagros S. Cruz, Chair of the International Hartford board, notes that the organization strives to partner with immigrants wanting to start a business, help new and existing entrepreneurs navigate red tape, determine best ways to access credit, as well as other services.
    • At the organization’s kickoff event in October 2013, Hartford’s mayor stated that Hartford is and “will continue to be a city of immigrants. It is immigrants that have basically built the city.” Additionally, Art Feltman, Executive Director of International Harford, said, “One of the things that we think that immigrants can help Hartford with is to create those trade links both for import and export that we’re not experiencing right now.”

The Hartford Courant described International Hartford as a great idea, “one that can promote commerce downtown and in the neighborhoods where business is dearly needed. And if it building on itself, if Hartford gets a reputation as a place that is friendly to immigrant businesses, who knows? The entrepreneur with a taco truck may smooth the path for a niece or nephew who starts a software company. An entrepreneur in Hartford might open trade with his or her home country.”

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NYC welcomes immigrants

nyc imm comm

New York City’s Office for Immigrants Has Become a Global Model

By KIRK SEMPLE, New York Times

Published: December 30, 2013


In an effort to improve its approach to immigrants, the City of Amsterdam sent a representative to New York City this year to do some field work. She landed in Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, shadowing its staff for six weeks and taking notes.

Officials from Philadelphia, with questions about diversity and integration on their minds, also reached out to New York City. They, too, wanted to refine their approach to their city’s fast-growing foreign-born population. New York’s commissioner of immigrant affairs, Fatima Shama, met with several top officials in Philadelphia, briefing them on her office’s work. In March, Philadelphia’s mayor opened his own Office of Immigrant and Multicultural Affairs.

“Looking at the work that New York has done has become very important in figuring out how deeply we can get into really affecting the lives of immigrants, refugees and other underrepresented groups,” said Jennifer I. Rodriguez, executive director of the Philadelphia office.

In the past few years, New York’s Office of Immigrant Affairs has become a prime resource — even a model — for cities around the world seeking to better accommodate and serve their increasingly diverse populations. Ms. Shama and her staff have provided direct assistance to more than 20 cities in the United States and abroad — including Baltimore, Boston, Chicago and Los Angeles as well as Florence and Turin in Italy — and at least 10 eventually set up their own immigrant affairs offices.

“These are folks who said, ‘We have changing demographics in our respective cities and we need to get ahead of it, and if anyone can show us how to do it, it’s New York,’ ” Ms. Shama said.

As efforts by the Obama administration to pass comprehensive immigration reform have faltered, states and municipalities have sought to deal with immigration-related challenges on their own. Some governments have toughened local enforcement measures against people in the country illegally, while others have opened the door wider to their foreign-born residents, providing more support and access to public services.

During a succession of mayoral administrations, New York City has established itself as one of the most immigrant-friendly places in the nation.

From the start of his tenure, Mr. Bloomberg proclaimed his support for immigrants, frequently extolling their contributions to the city and making it clear that regardless of immigration status, they were welcome. Among his signature immigration initiatives were executive orders that allowed all immigrants to access city services and report crimes without fear of being questioned about their status.

Ms. Shama, who was born and raised in the Bronx, was appointed in 2009. Her approach to the job, she said, was informed by her experiences growing up as the daughter of a Palestinian immigrant father and a Brazilian immigrant mother. She remembers how some people mistreated her parents because of the way they spoke and dressed.

“I decided to go on this path working for people who look a lot like me,” she said. In the New Yorkers she helped, she added, “I literally could see my family all over again.” (Ms. Shama plans to remain in her job to assist with the transition to the new mayoral administration. Mayor-elect Bill de Blasio has not yet announced her successor.)

The office’s mandate is to serve as a bridge — “the connective tissue,” Ms. Shama called it — between the immigrant population and city government, providing policy analysis and recommendations to the mayor as well as improving immigrants’ access to city services.

Over the past several years, the office has begun and supported a range of initiatives meant to empower immigrant communities. They include educational campaigns to combat immigration fraud and improve health care access, coordinating city agencies in providing assistance to young immigrants applying for a federal deportation deferral program, encouraging immigrants to participate in English-language programs and become more involved in their children’s schools, improving financial literacy and college readiness, supporting immigrant businesses and training new leaders in immigrant neighborhoods.

Some immigrants’ advocates said the office could have been more effective had it been given a bigger budget, a larger staff and control over more programs.

Chung-Wha Hong, who recently stepped down as the executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition, said the mayoral transition provided an opportunity to sharpen the mandate and objectives of the office.

“The nature of immigrant issues are so broad,” she said, “that I think it’s very important to set a clear set of priorities, picking a few policy areas and setting concrete goals against which you can measure achievements.”

Other immigrant leaders said Ms. Shama’s office did not champion their causes as ardently as they would have liked.

While commending Ms. Shama and the mayor for their support of an Islamic community center planned for Lower Manhattan, Muslim leaders said the administration mishandled two other key issues: an effort to add Muslim holidays to the public school calendar, which Mr. Bloomberg blocked; and the Police Department’s surveillance of mosques and Muslim community groups in the city and elsewhere.

Ms. Shama adopted a highly diplomatic posture on these issues, carefully acknowledging the community’s concerns while also supporting Mr. Bloomberg and the administration.

“On two very important issues, we were very definitely left out in the cold,” said Linda Sarsour, executive director of the Arab American Association of New York.

But others said Ms. Shama did some of her most effective work behind the scenes, advising and cajoling her colleagues and sensitizing them to the needs of the city’s foreign-born population.

Whatever the impact of the office on the city’s immigrants, one of the most enduring legacies of her tenure may well be its influence elsewhere.

Ms. Shama’s team in April published a set of documents known as Blueprints for Immigrant Integration. They lay out her office’s strategy for connecting with and serving the city’s immigrant population.

More than 50 cities around the world, she said, are now using the blueprints to guide their work.


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Gerardo Neugovsen’s IH presentation















” We are in the midst of a profound transition, moving from the Industrial Age to the Knowledge

Era and where knowledge, creativity, culture and innovation are central…”


≥≥≥≥≥≥  Gerardo Neugovsen’s IH presentation 10-10-13-1

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Giving Immigrant Entrepreneurs A Hand

Screen shot 2013-11-13 at 9.06.19 AMGiving Immigrant Entrepreneurs a Hand: International Hartford aims to help new businesses

EDITORIAL 7:09 p.m. EST, November 11, 2013

Immigrants start businesses at a higher rate than non-immigrants, according to a Small Business Administration study. New businesses mean more jobs and economic activity.So, concluded Art Feltman and Milagros Cruz, why not help more immigrants start businesses?

Mr. Feltman, a former Hartford city council member and state legislator, and Ms. Cruz, an immigration lawyer, have launched an entity called International Hartford, dedicated to helping immigrant entrepreneurs launch small businesses. It is not a lending institution, but rather a kind of clearinghouse that provides such supports as help with business plans, matchups with same-culture business counselors, market research and referrals to lenders. It’s a great idea, one that can promote commerce downtown and in the neighborhoods, where business is dearly needed. And if it builds on itself, if Hartford gets a reputation as a place that is friendly to immigrant businesses, who knows? The entrepreneur with a taco truck may smooth the path for a niece or nephew who starts a software company. An entrepreneur in Hartford might open trade with his or her home country.

Immigrants have been starting businesses in Hartford since the city was founded. Many of today’s immigrants, unlike some periods in history, are well educated; about a third have college or graduate degrees. Some are underemployed and itching to move up the ladder. About a fourth of new tech companies have at least one founder born abroad, according to studies by the Kauffman Foundation, and the numbers are higher in the Silicon Valley. There’s no reason a little of that magic couldn’t happen here.

Add immigrant business operators to the core of promising homegrown entrepreneurs now working in the city as well as the legacy businesses, and perhaps Hartford can again be what it was for a long time — a place that drew immigrants because there was plenty of work here. For more information, see


Copyright © 2013, The Hartford Courant

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New Americans in Connecticut

  • 13.4% of Connecticuters are foreign born
  • 17.7% are Latino or Asian
  • 49.4% are naturalized U.S. citizens and are eligible to vote
  • 11.3% of registered voters are New Americans
  • 86.2% of children with immigrant parents are U.S. citizens
  • 82.9% of children with immigrant parents are English proficient
  • 82.8% of naturalized citizens have a high school diploma or higher
  • 9,350 foreign students contribute $318.2M to the state’s economy
  • Make up 16.7% of the workforce.
  • 4.5% of the workforce is unauthorized
  • Latino-owned businesses had sales and receipts of $2.5 billion and employed 11,872 people
  • Asian-owned businesses had sales and receipts of $3.3 billion and employed 18,838 people
  • The purchasing power of Latinos is $13.4 billion. Asian buying power totaled $8.4 billion
  • Connecticut would lose $5.6 billion in economic activity and about 24,119 jobs if all unauthorized immigrants were removed.

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Follow These 10 Steps to Starting a Business


Starting a business involves planning, making key financial decisions and completing a series of legal activities. These 10 easy steps can help you plan, prepare and manage your business. Click on the links to learn more.

Step 1: Write a Business Plan

Use these tools and resources to create a business plan. This written guide will help you map out how you will start and run your business successfully.

Step 2: Get Business Assistance and Training

Take advantage of free training and counseling services, from preparing a business plan and securing financing, to expanding or relocating a business.

Step 3: Choose a Business Location

Get advice on how to select a customer-friendly location and comply with zoning laws.

Step 4: Finance Your Business

Find government-backed loans, venture capital and research grants to help you get started.

Step 5: Determine the Legal Structure of Your Business

Decide which form of ownership is best for you: sole proprietorship, partnership, Limited Liability Company (LLC), corporation, S corporation, nonprofit or cooperative.

Step 6: Register a Business Name (“Doing Business As”)

Register your business name with your state government.

Step 7: Get a Tax Identification Number

Learn which tax identification number you’ll need to obtain from the IRS and your state revenue agency.

Step 8: Register for State and Local Taxes

Register with your state to obtain a tax identification number, workers’ compensation, unemployment and disability insurance.

Step 9: Obtain Business Licenses and Permits

Get a list of federal, state and local licenses and permits required for your business.

Step 10: Understand Employer Responsibilities

Learn the legal steps you need to take to hire employees.

Startup Resources

There are a number of available programs to assist startups, micro businesses, and underserved or disadvantaged groups. The following resources provide information to help specialized audiences start their own businesses.

Environmentally-Friendly “Green” Business

Home-Based Business

Online Business

Self Employment

Minority Owned Business

Veteran Owned Business

Woman Owned Business

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Immigrants’ Role in the Small Business Economy Grows


The share of U.S. small businesses owned by immigrants has expanded by 50 percent since 1990, with almost one-fifth of business owners born outside the country, according to a new report (PDF) by the Fiscal Policy Institute.

The number of foreign-born business owners has increased in tandem with the immigrant workforce. Immigrants made up about 9 percent of workers in 1990 and 12 percent of business owners with fewer than 100 employees, according to the report, which analyzed U.S. Census data. In 2010, the foreign-born share of the workforce had grown to 16 percent, and immigrants made up 18 percent of small business owners.

“It’s gone from a modest size of business owners to a pretty substantial size of business owners,” says David DyssegaardKallick, a fellow at the institute who authored the report.

The conversation around immigrants’ role in the economy is often dominated by two oversimplified ideas, he says. Immigrants are either seen as strictly in competition with native-born workers for jobs, or immigration is seen as magic bullet to revive stagnant economies. While the impact of immigrants on job growth can be overstated, he says, “people sometimes don’t realize that when immigrants come into the economy, the economy also grows.”

Immigrants from the Mediterranean and Middle East had the greatest rate of business ownership. At least 10 percent of workers from Greece, Israel, Syria, Iran, Lebanon, Jordan, and Italy were business owners, according to the report. The most common types of businesses were service enterprises, such as restaurants, doctors’ offices, real estate companies, and retail stores.

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