The Triangle is the area of North Carolina anchored by Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill. These university cities comprise a diverse and dynamic community that is attracting both young professionals and refugees alike.
In fiscal 2016, North Carolina was one of the ten states that resettled more than half of refugees arriving in the United States. Many of the 3,342 North Carolina took in landed in popular Triangle area.
Affordable housing and growing job opportunities are definite attractors, but it is the area’s receptiveness that is the icing on the cake, a factor most likely attributed to its abundance of university students.
But no open-minded communities are exempt to the occasional holdouts. Local businessman, Nate Hill, describes the cultural climate towards refugees as “pretty good”.
“There’s a lot of controversy,” he shares, “There’s a lot of support—yard signs that say ‘Refugees welcome here’, [but] still hesitancy about how it will play out.”
This controversy stems from concerns after the 2015 Paris attacks that left 130 people dead and three times as many injured. The attacks were attributed to ISIL—the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, otherwise known as Syria.
Immediately, politicians across America rose up, demanding increased security and screening of incoming refugees. Of the first was North Carolina governor Pat McCrory, who stated, “I am making a request to the President of the United States to cease allowing immigrants coming from Syria until we get thorough verification that all the immigrants coming in are not safety risks.”
McCrory’s predecessor, current Governor Roy Cooper, stood by this stance, however, criticized President Trump’s 2017 immigration order, issuing the statement, “…We need to make sure that our homeland is safe and the vetting process is thorough and that it is tough. But at the same time we do not need a religious test.”
Despite initial concerns, North Carolina ended up settling more than 600 Syrian refugees in 2016 alone, many settling in Durham. World Relief, an international organization, is one of the many nonprofits helping these new arrivals to thrive. “The Triangle area is a very welcoming place,” says senior case specialist, Jenny Bodnar, “Our office has more volunteers than any other World Relief office in the country. This community is very supportive of refugees and a welcoming place for newcomers.”
Many other churches and organizations have taken the lead to help these new arrivals navigate the challenges of adapting to their new life. Government assistance, in the area, lasts a mere 90-180 days after refugees arrive, a mere drop in the hat when one is expected to find housing, secure a job, and learn a new language, among other things.
In this regards, one big benefit to refugees is The Triangle’s flourishing economy. In fact, it’s growing job market and affordable cost of living earned the Raleigh-Durham the number 4 spot in MoneyWatch’s Best City for Job Seekers in 2017.
While new businesses pop onto the scene, daily, many of these opportunities are created by shortages. Shortages, he says, that are most evident in the construction and service industries—housekeeping, custodial service, yard maintenance and more. This “non-glamorous” work tends to be high in turnover, but makes for the perfect “in” for newly arrived refugees eager to get back on their feet.
Amplio Managing Director, Tucker Stevens, is working hard to close the gap between The Triangle’s eager refugee community and businesses in need. Amplio is the only Raleigh staffing company connecting companies to this highly beneficial, but mostly untapped labor pool—the refugee workforce.
If you are among the many socially responsible business owners within The Triangle, who are passionate about leveraging your company to positively impact lives, we would love to connect.