Conference explores impact of immigration on economic development

BANGOR, Maine (WABI) - Exploring the impact of immigration on economic development in the Greater Bangor region.

That was the goal of a first of its kind conference in the area held Tuesday.

"We have a problem here in the state of Maine in terms of workforce."

Pamela Proulx-Curry, says that problem is Maine doesn't have enough workers to fill openings in the workforce.

"Without the workers, our economy can't grow. And so essentially our economy has flatlined, until and unless we can find people to take the jobs and allow business and industry to expand," she said.

Hosted by the Maine Multicultural Center, area business people were invited to learn from experts about possible pathways to success.

"Explain the different kind of visas that are available from a big institution like a hospital or Jackson Lab to small business owners, the different businesses available and the way to follow them," said MMC board member Krishna Jamadagni.

Organizers feel success will be driven by educating employers and showing, not only how important this workforce is to the state.

"Some hotels are unable to open up in June because they're unable to find seasonal workers," said Jamadagni.

But welcoming it.

"An appreciation for the value of immigrants to any community, both the economic and social value of having immigrants as part of your community," said MMC Board President Proulx-Curry.

By inviting business owners, the hope is they take away information to effectively move forward.

"Learn from the business owners their needs of what kind of workforce issues that they are facing so that we can go back to, let's say a community college and say hey, this is what they need," said Jamadagni. "We need to create a curriculum."

For more information on what's available, visit MaineMulticulturalCenter.org.