As a state known for its southern hospitality, Georgia has long been a popular landing pad for many refugees arriving in the U.S.
The “Peach state” welcomed just under 1,000 refugees in the final fiscal quarter of 2016 alone, surpassed only by a handful of larger, more populated states including California and Texas.
The majority of these have settled in a 1.4 square mile stretch of land in East Atlanta, a little town called Clarkston. But what makes this former farmland a desirable destination for new arrivals? The answer lies in its proximity to Atlanta, which puts it just within reach of public transportation, while being far enough away for plenty of affordable housing.
Refugee resettlement programs recognized these benefits in the 1990s, and began placing families. Since then Clarkston has resettled more than 40,000 refugees—a remarkable act for any city, let alone one with a population of just over 12,000 (of which refugees make up half).
Clarkston continues to cultivate their diverse and welcoming community, despite local and national disputes. After the world-famous Paris attacks, in 2015, Georgia Governor Deal issued an order prohibiting Syrian refugees from entering the state until the department had “re-examined the security concerns and established a new process for accepting refugees from Syria.” Deal quickly cancelled the order, though, after pushback from Attorney General Sam Olens, who stated, his “official opinion”—that states, like Georgia, who act as mere funnels of federal pass-through dollars did not have the right to refuse benefits to any federally approved refugee.
Despite this hiccup, the Georgia people continue, for the most part, to embrace the refugee population. So much so that many locals have moved to Clarkston specifically to come alongside the refugee community, who are given a mere 3-6 months to completely acclimate and stand on their own in a completely new environment.
Grassroots organizations such as The Lantern Project and Refuge Coffee have sprung up all over Clarkston to go beyond the governments “sink or swim method”, partnering alongside refugees to help them reach a necessary level of self-sufficiency. Organizations such as these provide skills training, teach English as a second language, connect families to resources, and cultivate community in spite of its residents’ vast diversity.
This partnership of agencies and organizations has made Georgia’s resettlement program “among the most successful and is seen as a model nationwide.” In a recent study, results revealed that “87% of refugee households in Georgia are working and paying their own expenses within six months of arrival—among the highest early self-sufficiency rates in the country.”
This is surely, in part, also due to another benefit attracting more than just refugees, to the Atlanta area—the ever-growing job market. Atlanta was named “best city for job seekers in 2017”, based on scoring that took into account employee pay and cost of living.
“A lot of refugees are here because they can get a job,” Amplio recruiting specialist, Alaa Habeb explains, “Not all states have an abundance of jobs. In Colorado you can get a job—but not quickly like Atlanta. In San Diego it is really hard. Here, a lot of companies and agencies are hiring. The opportunity is really big.”
The job opportunity is particularly big in Georgia’s construction, manufacturing and logistics industries, where shortage is great due to several socioeconomic changes over the past decade. These jobs, which many Americans won’t take, are a great starting point for these newly arrived refugees looking to enter the workforce.
In 2014, Amplio Founder and CEO, Chris Chancey, visited Clarkston to learn more about refugee resettlement. It was at this time he recognized how he could use business as a tool to bridge the gap between Atlanta’s abundance of job and growing refugee community. He created Amplio, a labor staffing agency sourcing the best talent, 100% from among the refugee workforce.
In 2015, Amplio placed over 200 refugees in companies around Atlanta, and has continued to grow since. Now, these refugees are adding value all across the city, in workplaces ranging from small businesses all the way up to Coca-Cola and Atlanta Braves’ Suntrust Park. They, and many others, are quickly catching onto the vast benefits of hiring refugees, including increased dependability, morale, and work ethic.
Join with these companies and more in allowing Amplio to be your labor shortage solution. We go above and beyond to provide the most talented and fluent refugees to fill your job openings.
To learn more about our services, contact us today or visit www.ampliorecruiting.com.
Together we can continue to keep Georgia a welcoming community to the displaced.