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Tulsa World: Oklahoma making progress to helping Afghans work, live in communities

Oklahoma is expected to be one of the leading states resettling Afghan evacuees. In an op-ed for The Tulsa World, Kristin Kent Spanos, Bush Institute-SMU Economic Growth Initiative Program Manager, explains how an investment in the future of refugees is an investment in the state’s collective future.

Article by Ioanna Papas November 10, 2021 //   2 minute read

About 1,800 Afghan evacuees are heading for Oklahoma. It's estimated that 1,000 evacuees will settle in and around Oklahoma City, with the remaining 800 in Tulsa and Stillwater. Kristin Kent Spanos, Bush Institute-SMU Economic Growth Initiative Program Manager, in an op-ed for The Tulsa World details how the evacuees will add to the vibrancy of Oklahoma's communities and the strength of their economy. 

"An investment in the future of refugees is an investment in the state’s collective future. Immigrants, including refugees, contribute to the economy — and those contributions occur on the local level.

Oklahoma has already benefitted from the 240,000 immigrants who call the Sooner State home. Immigrants comprise 6% of the state’s population, 15.7% the state’s construction workforce and 11.5% of its STEM workforce, according to a New American Economy analysis. They generate demand for goods through billions of dollars in spending power. They pay taxes, build businesses and end up creating jobs for others.

But to get to that point, they need assistance to rebuild their lives.

To help Afghan evacuees succeed in America, Oklahoma’s city and county governments, local nonprofit organizations and the private sector must all do their part."

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