Immigrant Welcoming and Belonging Plan Released

Published on March 31, 2022

City and County release plan along with new report highlighting role immigrants play in  labor force, STEM innovation, and consumer spending power

The City of Lincoln and Lancaster County today released a new community plan on the role that new Americans will continue to play in local and regional growth.  The Welcoming & Belonging Strategic Plan to guide the successful integration of immigrants and refugees into the region includes six key action steps to provide:

  • equitable access to services for all residents,
  • civic engagement and community connections,
  • access to education,
  • economic opportunity,
  • safe and healthy communities, and
  • affordable and quality housing.

“This plan that we are releasing today underscores the vital role that new Americans have played and will continue to play in the economic success and cultural vibrancy of our community,” said Lincoln Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird. “This collaborative work strongly aligns with our One Lincoln initiative to create a culture of equity, inclusion, and belonging for every Lincoln resident.”

“For decades, Immigrants have contributed to the cultural vibrancy and economic prosperity of our community,” said Christa Yoakum, Lancaster County Commissioner. “Today, people who are immigrants and refugees build our homes, provide medical services and care for our loved ones, work in our manufacturing and in food production and most of all, they are our neighbors. And we want our neighbors to put down deep roots in our community. Implementing the actions steps outlined in the Welcoming & Belonging Strategic Plan are necessary to shape a more supportive, safe, and successful community for all of us.”

The Welcoming & Belonging Strategic Plan is available at  It grew out of Lincoln-Lancaster County being selected as one of 19 localities for the Gateways for Growth Challenge in 2020.  That program provided the community with access to research support and technical assistance from the American Immigration Council and Welcoming America to improve immigrant integration. The plan was developed over the past year with input from community members, immigrants, refugees, stakeholders, and local organizations.

“We are excited to see a tangible, comprehensive strategy come as the result of months of planning and stakeholder engagement,” said Mo Kantner, Director of State and Local Initiatives at the American Immigration Council. “Lancaster County and the City of Lincoln continue to show a clear commitment to ensuring the region is welcoming and inclusive for all, and the local community and economy will reap those benefits.”

“The efforts by the City of Lincoln and Lancaster County to combine data with a strategic plan demonstrate its commitment to taking a comprehensive, community-driven approach to immigrant inclusion," said Molly Hilligoss, Network Director of Welcoming America. "By harnessing the full talents and potential of immigrant residents, the entire community benefits."

The Welcoming & Belonging Strategic Plan was released in conjunction with a new report, New Americans in Lancaster County.  It was released by New American Economy (now the American Immigration Council) in partnership /with the City of Lincoln and Lancaster County.  The report is included as an appendix to the plan, and it findings include the following:

  • Between 2014 and 2019, the County’s population increased by 6.5%, while the immigrant population grew by 16.2%, meaning over 18% of the total population growth  was attributable to immigrants.
  • In 2019 alone, immigrants in the region held $455.7 million in spending power and paid $89.2 million in federal taxes and $60.1 million in state and local taxes.
  • Despite making up 8.2% of the area’s overall population in 2019, immigrants represented 11.7% of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) workers; 21.1% of manufacturing workers; 11.8% of hospitality workers; 11.7% of education workers; 9.9% of essential food service workers; 9.3% of essential construction workers; and 8.2% of essential healthcare workers.
  • As of 2019, immigrants are 29.7% more likely to be of working age than those born in the U.S., helping Lancaster County to meet its labor force demands.
  • In 2019, immigrant households contributed $70.4 million to Social Security and $17.2 million to Medicare.  
  • Immigrants helped preserve or create 1,200 local manufacturing jobs that would have otherwise vanished or moved elsewhere by 2019.