Welcome Center will integrate immigrants, incubate new businesses

Welcome Center will integrate immigrants, incubate new businesses

At a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Monday, Senator Angus King and Portland City Councilor Pious Ali helped open a new Immigrant Welcome Center in downtown Portland. The Welcome Center provides a co-working space and incubator for immigrant-owned businesses as well as a venue for non-profits to work in support of Maine’s vibrant and growing New Mainer community.

According to Interim Executive Director Alain Nahimana, the Welcome Center will not only provide a state-of-the-art location for new businesses to operate and grow, it will also provide services to help integrate New Mainers into the local community. Nahimana has plans for digital English language classes, training on business skills, and loans to cover the cost of becoming a citizen, which can exceed $1,000.

“We can’t build an inclusive economy without an inclusive democracy,” said Nahimana.

According to a 2016 Kauffman Foundation report, immigrant-owned businesses make up about a quarter of all new businesses in the United States.

“New Mainer entrepreneurs are bringing much-needed vibrancy and diversity to our state’s communities and economy,” said Will Ikard, director of the Maine Small Business Coalition, who attended the ribbon cutting. “With our state and federal government doing so little to assist and encourage immigrant entrepreneurs to come to Maine, we’re lucky that non-profits like the Welcome Center are stepping up to fill in the gaps.”

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