Lucas County preparing for immigrant resettlement - 13abc.com Toledo (OH) News, Weather and Sports

Lucas County preparing for immigrant resettlement

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Beginning around the first of the year, Toledo will become an immigrant resettlement city.   It's a story we first told you about back in July but now the pieces are in place to make the program a success.

The United States government is looking for communities that can welcome about 30-Iraqi families.  Toledo has a long history of welcoming immigrants and now it has a social structure that can help.

Lucas County is working with the US State Department to resettle about 30 Iraqi families in the Toledo metro area.

Most ethnic restaurants in Toledo are owned by immigrants like Beatriz Garduno.  She came to Toledo 15-years ago, got a job, bought a house, built a business.  It's a struggle, she told 13abc's Bill Hormann, "It's picking up a little with slow days and good days."

She's proud of what she and her family are building… at La Cachanilla Tamaleria at 222 S. Summit Street.

"New folks, new friends, new families that added value to our community."

Lucas County Commissioner. Pete Gerken (D) says other immigrants want to build a future here, as well.

The State Department is looking for communities to welcome new refugees from Iraq, in 2014 and Gerken says they should come to Toledo.

He says, "What we found is they come here from other places, bring talent with them, bring family values with them, bring a work ethic with them."

And, in some cases, they bring a life savings with them.

The Toledo Lucas County Land Bank is now part of this refugee resettlement program and will link immigrants with properties to help them build a life.

Cindy Geronimo, Vice President of the Landbank says, "We've had examples where immigrants have come to us and been able to save $10,000 and buy a house and have agreed to fix it up."

Or buy abandoned commercial sites,  build a business, create jobs and contribute to the community.

And groups like the Toledo Community Foundation, which will help fund support agencies, believes the community benefits as much as the families.

Anneliese Grytafey says studies indicate a financial gain.  "For every dollar that was invested to bring refugees into the community they saw a $10 dollar gain to their local economy," Grytafey told 13abc.

Which gets us back to Beatriz, who's working hard to build a future here in Toledo.

"I hope so and for the future, you know, making more opportunities for my sons."

Immigration can help towns like Toledo reverse a declining population.

Committees have been organized and support agencies are getting ready to provide job training,  English- as- a- second- language classes and even housing opportunities.

30-Iraqi families will resettle in Toledo starting in early 2014.

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