Immigrant and Business Success in North Hill Community
Political Science doctoral candidate and School of Peace and Conflict Studies instructor Anuj Gurung has recently completed some work that focuses on economic development and specifically the immigrant business community. Anuj served as a Research Consultant for the International Institute of Akron, a refugee resettlement agency, in the fall of 2016 carrying out a much-needed study of neighborhood economics and social networking.
Funded by the Knight Foundation, Anuj designed a 20 question survey on recent revenue trends, the impacts of immigrant clientele, and business owner satisfaction with location. Distributing these surveys in-person, he was able to gather important data and network within the community.
Following completion of the survey, Anuj designed and conducted focus groups with U.S.-born and immigrant business owners. Beyond providing relevant data, the focus groups had important spin-off benefits in terms of facilitating contact between U.S.-born and immigrant owners. This led to subsequent cooperative meetings.
Anuj was the lead author on the subsequent project report and provided a snap shot of the findings for us:
· “The North Hill businesses, especially between North Main Street and Cuyahoga Falls Avenue, enjoy a stable business environment, with a high potential for future growth. 70% of all businesses reported a stable revenue trend in the last three years.
· Moreover, the business community is receptive of the rising immigrant population and the subsequent client base. 85% of surveyed immigrant businesses have an immigrant customer base of 60% or higher; 30% of non-immigrant businesses claim immigrant client base of 50% or more.
· There is a general consensus on the need for the North Hill business community to communicate with one another on a regular basis, and establish an information base that can be useful for start-up businesses.Locals wanted a business association and an opportunity to regularly meet with other North Hill business owners to discuss their concerns. Sharing best business practices including enhanced communication, and creation of a business information base to assist start-up businesses.”
Anuj is currently working on a dissertation that focuses on Bhutanese the resettlement in North Hill. Prior to beginning his work at Kent State, he worked for the United Nations High Commission on Refugees and ActionAid. He is a long and active supporter of refugee rights. His research skills and commitment to this community coalesced in the work for the International Institute of Akron and final report. Many congratulations to him!