When business supports immigration, St. Louis wins: Article discussing excellent support for the value of immigration and all they do to support the mission of Mosaic Project and the International Ins

Below is a January 1st, Business Journal piece by Molly Hyland of Commerce Bank discussing excellent support for the value of immigration and all they do to support the mission of the St. Louis Mosaic Project and the International Institute STL.
At Commerce Bank, we recognize the important role immigration will have on the future of our region. The St. Louis area has a long history of attracting people from all over the world, and that has positively affected everything from our culture to our economy. Continuing that influx of foreign-born people is important to the growth and stability of our population both in the city and the surrounding counties.
The numbers, however, are clear: the St. Louis region has fewer immigrants, and has attracted fewer new immigrants in recent years, than the rest of the country.
The St. Louis Fed reports that as of 2019, the region’s population was about 5.5% foreign-born, well below the national level of 14.6%. Between 2005 and 2019, the immigrant population grew by 0.7%, compared to 1.5% for the U.S. overall.
The lower immigration numbers are a challenge for the area because of our declining population. A study by the St. Louis Business Journal found that the market lost more than 20,000 native-born Americans from 2010 to 2019. Even though the area gained 10,000 foreign-born people during that time, the result is still a net loss.
Commerce Bank is one of many local organizations working to make St. Louis more attractive for immigrants; it’s one of the many ways we support our communities. When we saw the news about the U.S.-led evacuation of Afghanistan in late 2021, we asked ourselves how we as a company could support the people who will be coming here. We did so by creating a series of new initiatives focused on four critical areas: employment, financial education, banking services and volunteerism.
Finding ways to support immigrants aligns with Commerce Bank’s values; community development is very important to us. We viewed it as critical that we play a role in working with the Afghan refugees who were coming to our markets. These refugees were seeking a hand up, not a handout, and we wanted to respond with solutions to fit that need. We recognized there was a lot we could do, with everything from financial education sessions taught by Commerce team members who are fluent in Pashto to interviewing qualified candidates for open roles at the bank.
In St. Louis, we partner with the International Institute and the St. Louis Mosaic Project, two organizations that help immigrants who relocate to the region and work to make the area more attractive to foreign-born people. One of their goals is to identify the credentials and skills immigrants have that would be of interest to employers and see if they can identify a good fit.
We believe the programs we’ve built out can support many incoming immigrants in various ways. Our hope is that the plan we’ve established will continue to be relevant for a variety of circumstances. For example, refugees from Ukraine or any other country can benefit from the same programs upon their arrival. We’re hopeful that we can do our part to make St. Louis a destination for all immigrants, since they add to the culture of St. Louis and contribute to our economy in a positive way.
The efforts being made in St. Louis by the St. Louis Mosaic Project, the International Institute and others are having a positive impact. A study by the George W. Bush Institute listed St. Louis as the nation’s sixth-best metro area for immigrants’ well-being and the third-best for living standards for foreign-born people. The report cited St. Louis’ comprehensive efforts in three areas – being a place of opportunity for everyone, having welcoming policies and having programs in place to help immigrants thrive – as being significant factors in the area’s ability to attract foreign-born residents.