“One in five Florida residents is an immigrant and our state benefits enormously from the diversity, energy, and contributions of our immigrant communities.” – Samuel Vilchez Santiago, ABIC Florida State Director.
APOPKA, FL: Today the American Business Immigration Coalition (ABIC), the Apopka Area Chamber of Commerce and the HOPE CommUnity Center convened “We Grow Apopka,” a roundtable and luncheon in Apopka, FL featuring leaders in local agricultural, construction, hospitality, health and education sectors. Participants discussed current and projected workforce challenges and the benefits of Florida’s immigrant workforce.
“One in five Florida residents is an immigrant and our state benefits enormously from the diversity, energy, and contributions of our immigrant communities,” said Samuel Vilchez Santiago, ABIC Florida State Director. “Immigrants have been particularly critical to our state’s economic success by filling in critical labor shortages in key industries, creating new jobs, and paying local, state, and federal taxes. Let’s ask ourselves: Where would this community and state be if not for the work of immigrants?”
“As the voice for our local business community, the Apopka Chamber of Commerce brings business relevant roundtable discussions to the community,” said Cate Manley, Apopka Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO. “Being aware and involved in workforce and economic impacts give businesses the opportunity to come together to collaborate, adapt, or change course when necessary. Immigrants are critical to our local economy.”
“Hard working immigrants give back to our community, grow our economy, and make sacrifices so that their kids have the opportunity to reach their American dream,” said Felipe Sousa Lazaballet, Hope CommUnity Executive Director. “The reality is immigrants fill critical labor shortages in key industries, especially in construction, hospitality, and agriculture.This is especially important given our current inflation crisis that has been worsened by unprecedented labor shortage levels. We know here in Central Florida that our businesses are in dire need of new workers. And again, immigrants come here to work.”
“If Florida were a country, we would have the sixteenth-largest economy in the world,” said Dave Sobush, Certified Economic Developer & Director of Research, Florida Chamber Foundation. “Florida continues to grow its economy but there are some serious headwinds related to the labor market. We saw declines in employment in key sectors, like construction. There are about 404 thousand job openings in the state of Florida. There are only 280 thousand people looking for work. That means there are 70 people looking for jobs for every 100 open jobs. The case is worse in Orange County where there are 60 people looking for jobs for every 100 open jobs.”
American Business Immigration Coalition (ABIC) is a bipartisan coalition of over 1,200+ CEOs, business owners, and trade associations across 17 mostly red and purple states. ABIC promotes common sense immigration reform that advances economic competitiveness, provides companies with both the high-skilled and low-skilled talent they need, and allows the integration of immigrants into our economy as consumers, workers, entrepreneurs, and citizens.
Hope Community Center fosters diverse, empowered, learning communities engaged in personal and societal transformation. Through service and advocacy, we stand together with immigrants and others who are tenacious and courageous in the face of all systems of oppression.
Apopka Area Chamber of Commerce since 1913 has served the economic development, prosperity, and sustainability of our community and region through connectivity, leadership, education and support. Its vision is to build a prosperous and sustainable community through leadership and service.