9:32am

Tue April 5, 2011
Demographics

Immigrants help buoy upstate Census figures

Last month, the Innovation Trail's Daniel Robison brought you a series of stories about how Buffalo's West Side is changing, thanks to immigration and community action.

Today Jay Tokasz at the Buffalo News reports that those efforts are getting a boost in the form of a new resettlement center for refugees:

Catholic Charities officials plan to use the new center for their growing resettlement efforts, which have expanded from about 50 people per year in the 1980s to 570 in 2010.

But they also expect the center to help increase collaboration among the area’s four resettlement agencies and enhance services to refugees beyond federal mandates.

In addition to classrooms and office space, the project eventually will include an on-site refugee health clinic, operated in cooperation with D’Youville College and the Catholic Health System.

The John R. Oishei Foundation kicked in $500,000 for the project, in part because of the project’s collaborative nature and its ability to revive a West Side neighborhood that already is home to many resettled refugees.

At the New York Times' Economix blog Edward Glaeser applauds a diversifying America, writing that the nation will keep up with international competition only if its ethnic makeup keeps pace – and if it continues to welcome new Americans:

The minority population increases are particularly important for the dense urban areas that disproportionately house immigrants and other lower-income individuals. Cities have been gateways into the country for centuries, and they continue to play that role.

Immigrants are a major part of our most successful urban cores, like Boston (27 percent foreign-born) and New York (36 percent foreign-born), but they also swell the population of small cities like Lawrence, Mass. (34 percent foreign-born), and Yonkers (29 percent foreign-born).

The ability to get around without buying cars is worth a lot to people who have just come to this country.

Census

Brian Sharp at the Democrat and Chronicle reports that Rochester is seeing a similar influx of immigrants as part of its changing demographic picture:

Minority populations in this area grew by 22 percent, fueled in part by an influx of refugees, while the white population declined by nearly 25 percent.

The 2010 Census revealed a number of notable changes within the city:

"It's not a huge change, but we have changed the direction of the trend, and we have to keep that going," said Bret Garwood, the city's acting commissioner of neighborhood and business development.

Sharp writes that despite the new populations that are finding the Rochester area, the city's downtown still struggles with high vacancy rates.  At the Buffalo News, Phil Fairbanks reports the same phenomenon in the Queen City:

While Buffalo led the state in vacancies for the second time in as many census counts, the news could have been a lot worse, given its dramatic loss of population.

"You should have seen the number shoot way up, but it didn't shoot up at all," said Kathryn Foster, director of the University at Buffalo's Regional Institute.

The city's vacancy rate, in fact, was stable -- high, but virtually unchanged from the last census count 10 years ago.

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