City of Gainesville awarded national grants to improve immigrant relations

The City of Gainesville has been awarded Gateways for Growth (G4G) research and technical assistance grants by the New American Economy (NAE) and Welcoming America. The competitive awards are part of the 2020 G4G Challenge to improve immigrant inclusion and economic opportunities in communities across the nation.

The City will bring together area community leaders, advocacy organizations, academic institutions, health care providers and business partners to build a stronger environment of inclusion and social cohesion that maximizes the contributions of all area residents. 

The group will serve as a steering committee, helping advise City leaders on the development of inclusive policies that reflect immigrant issues and on ways to improve and operationalize policies that focus on more equitable service delivery to immigrants.

“Gainesville’s immigrant neighbors are vital to our community and our economy,” said Gainesville Assistant City Manager Deborah Bowie. “They open unique businesses, fill voids in critical service-oriented markets, which we all know throughout the pandemic has been critical in keeping the economy going. Immigrants enrich academic circles and add immeasurably to the richness of Gainesville’s art, cuisine, entrepreneurship and music scenes. Focusing on immigrant issues aligns with the city’s commitment to build a more equitable community,” she added.

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As part of the Gainesville G4G initiative, area partners will identify and engage immigrant neighbors in the planning process, gather statistical data, and assess the strength and availability of community assets, among other undertakings. Robin Lewy, director of programming at the Rural Women’s Health Project, has been tapped to serve as the grassroots advocacy lead, working with the City to cultivate a diverse network of nonprofits and immigrant-focused organizations to build a more welcoming community.

“Gateways for Growth is an important opportunity for Gainesville to build a framework for inclusion of immigrants and refugees, beyond economic benefit. These efforts will strengthen equity practices, policies and community safety, benefiting our diverse community,” Lewy said.

As recipient of two grants, the City will receive customized quantitative research reports on the demographic and on economic contributions by immigrants, as well as tailored technical assistance to help communities draft, execute, and communicate a multisectoral immigrant inclusion strategy. Gainesville will receive in-kind support of NAE and WA which, beyond technical assistance, includes $10,000 in research costs and $10,000 in Welcoming America membership value per calendar year, to leverage $20,000 or more in local match funding to support the process.

“We applied for Gateways 4 Growth because we recognize we have a lot of work to do toward building a more inclusive network, beginning with City services and including immigrants in that planning is crucial to our success,” Bowie said. “We are ready and willing to roll up our sleeves and do the work.”

Additional 2020 G4G recipients are Contra Costa County, Los Angeles, and San Mateo County, CA; Miami-Dade County, FL; Southwest Kansas; Ottawa County and Washtenaw County, MI; Minneapolis and Saint Paul, MN; Lancaster County, NE; Mercer County and Passaic County, NJ; Reno/Washoe County, NV; Dayton, Cleveland and Columbus, OH; Erie, PA; and Spokane, WA.

“The Gateways for Growth program helps communities quantify what many people already know — that immigrants play a key role in driving growth,” said Mo Kantner, director of State and Local Initiatives at New American Economy. “We’re excited to see how these communities can use data and technical assistance to support their work to ensure that all residents are welcome and have pathways to success.”

For additional information, please contact City of Gainesville Public Information Officer Rossana Passaniti at 352-393-7842 or

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