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Marketing to New Immigrants

In the decade to come, the number of workers reaching retirement age will be several times the number entering the work force. This will affect communities all over North America. Immigration will be vital to maintaining a workforce that can sustain economic prosperity, but immigrants are drawn overwhelmingly to large cities. What can mid-sized or small communities do to attract the immigrants they will need?

They can do what a number of large cities are already doing: identify the communities they wish to attract and draw them to their websites to explore economic-development opportunities.

Simple tips include:

  • Welcoming them and providing information in multiple languages
  • Providing useful information specifically valuable for new immigrants
  • Making it easy to find the new immigrant information section on the website

They can also take steps to make their sites stand out from the pack by adding interactive tools and extending their messages out to immigrant communities.

Be Welcoming to New Immigrants!

The first step is to serve notice that your community is serious about welcoming an immigrant work force. For an example you can look to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Philadelphia has realized that immigrants have made up for the population loss that resulted from middle-class whites and blacks departing for the suburbs. Now it has become one of the top 10 US metropolitan areas for immigrant men business owners.

It has done so with the help of a website called The Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians, www.welcomingcenter.org/immigrationPA/economic.php. It connects newly arrived individuals from around the world with the economic opportunities that they need to succeed. Since opening in 2003, the site has assisted more than 4,000 clients from 70 countries to understand how to obtain health care, education, get around in the city, find a job, start a business, bank, pay taxes and much more.

Target Immigrant Women Entrepreneurs

Immigrant women start businesses, too. They comprise one of the fastest-growing groups of business owners in North America. This fact is well recognized in the Region of Durham, Ontario, east of Toronto on the north shore of Lake Ontario, where the mayor and council of the Town of Ajax proclaimed May 2009 as South Asian Heritage Month at the request of a not-for-profit group called Community Economic Development for Immigrant Women.

The group’s website, www.ced4im-wo.org/index.html, is designed to help train, match and promote the skills of immigrant women and small business entrepreneurs by exploring the business opportunities that exist within Durham Region. It is one reason why immigrants are choosing Durham as their second home after landing in Toronto.

Make it Easy to for New Immigrants to Integrate

In the City of Red Deer, Alberta, www.MovingToRedDeer.ca provides a regional one-stop shop for potential immigrants, newcomers, and businesses with foreign workers who want to obtain information on topics including housing, education, language services, healthcare, and the cost of living in the Red Deer region. The site has helped produce an increase in attraction and retention of new labour for the region and reduce its critical labour shortage.

Atlanta and other communities in Georgia have benefited from the state’s Entrepreneur Friendly program, which includes a section of its economic development website devoted to women, minorities and youth, www.georgia.org/BusinessInGeorgia/SmallBusiness/WomenMinoritiesYouth/Pages/default.aspx. Georgia leads the US in entrepreneurship, according to the Kauffman Index of Entrepreneurial Activity, and its fastest-growing business segments are women and minorities.

The Province of British Columbia, Canada, has a website devoted to encouraging immigrants to settle, work and start businesses in the province. At www.welcomebc.ca newcomers can find all kinds of easily accessible information on social and business topics, including profiles of regions all over the province. The site is part of B.C.’s Provincial Nominee Program designed to make it easier for skilled workers and experienced entrepreneurs to settle there. Since 2001, British Columbia has welcomed more than 4,300 skilled and business immigrants and their families through this program.

Encourage Online Interaction and Collaboration

There are numerous other examples of effective marketing to immigrants on the Web, but they have one general weakness – they tend to present information in one direction and do not facilitate interactivity. Your business attraction site targeted to new immigrants could gain an advantage by incorporating blogs, surveys and comment boxes, opening up a dialogue with the immigrant communities you wish to attract.

All of this activity would increase the rankings of your site in search engines and draw larger audiences to your messages. So would linking your site to online communities that are already a focus for activity among immigrant business people.

They are not hard to find. Think of how your community’s prospects for enhancing its immigrant work force could be strengthened by associating with groups such as, say:

Such groups are everywhere and can be approached to become allies to excite interest in your community as a place of opportunity. And they are not just on the Web but on social-networking sites and services. Facebook is a good example. Do you know how many organizations you can find by searching for “Latin people of Columbus, Ohio” (facebook results) or “Portuguese people of London, Ontario (facebook results) ?

Reach out to New Immigrants

You can market effectively to new immigrants by reaching out through the web and social-networking sites to those already in your community, engaging them in dialogue, getting them involved in your investment-attraction programs and stimulating online activity. Your community could find itself at the very top of results pages when people search on the web for economic opportunities for immigrants.

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