Call them New Americans: Immigrants, refugees fill short-term job needs in St. Louis with long-term ambitions (Betsy Cohen interview)

The St. Louis metro area last year lost 3,200 residents and was bypassed by both Charlotte and Orlando among major U.S. metros. But within the grim news was one promising data point: The region added 3,865 foreign-born migrants in 2023, helping to somewhat offset the 5,600 people who left the region for elsewhere.

While not all of those new foreign-born residents are work eligible — the data likely includes families with children — the lone growing sector of the St. Louis population represents an opportunity to a regional economy facing a shortage of skilled workers.

To understand how the business community can capitalize on this opportunity, the Business Journal enlisted the help of Gilberto Pinela, director of the city of St. Louis’ newly created Office of New Americans, who pulled together a group of seven people, including himself, whose work is devoted to helping immigrants and refugees not only settle in St. Louis, but also navigate their ways into new career paths.

In addition to Gilberto, panelists included Arrey Obenson, president of the International Institute of St. Louis; Rebecca Ritter, a One Stop operator for the St. Louis Agency on Training and Employment (SLATE); Krizia Lopez, a Workforce Innovation fellow in St. Louis Mayor Tishaura Jones’ office; Katie Blackburn Brown, manager of English language programs at Washington University; Betsy Cohen, executive director of the St. Louis Mosaic Project; and Gabriela Ramirez-Arellano, vice president of entrepreneurship at the Cortex innovation community. Read more here.