Graduate Students Research Presentation Series
"Economic Integration of Immigrant Populations: The Latino/a Experience in Des Moines, Iowa "
Iowa has become a new gateway destination for Latinos/as, and the state has benefited from the influx of these immigrants given existing demographic trends that include brain drain, aging populations, and shrinking communities. This growth has led to the development of Latino/a entrepreneurship and business, creating commercial niches with high potential for economic development and revitalization in Iowan communities. However, the distribution of Latinos/as in the labor force remains concentrated in low-wage sectors of the economy. The lack of state and federal involvement to facilitate the economic integration of Latinos/as in the receiving communities partially explains this concentration. In order to overcome the public sector non-action status, the burden to promote economic integration is shifting to nongovernmental organizations (NGOs).
Yet, a few facts remain unclear with regards to NGOs participation in immigrant economic integration efforts in the City of Des Moines: 1) whether or not there is a network of support created by local actors; and 2) what type of effects this network has on the economic integration of the Latino/a population. Within this context, the main objective of my creative component project will be to examine the existence of a potential network of support in Des Moines from the supply side (i.e., the network of support) and the demand side (i.e., Latinos/as that have a job or are looking for a job). My ultimate goal is to propose recommendations to minimize obstacles that may exist and enhance opportunities for future Latino/a economic integration. I believe that the results of my project will bring awareness to the need for culturally sensible planning efforts for immigrant integration in new gateway destinations.