Columbus, Ohio Member Spotlight | Welcoming America

Member Spotlight: Columbus, Ohio

Welcoming brings prosperity & a chance to give back

After enduring years of instability and eventually fleeing to Thailand, Bounthanh Phommasathit and her family, including two toddler sons, were finally resettled in Columbus, Ohio, in 1979.

The Phommasathit family was eager to take advantage of opportunities as new Americans in Columbus, a city where refugees are more than twice as likely to own a business as the general population. Within a year of being resettled, they were helping new refugees transition to the United States.

"We like to work with people. When we worked with refugees on a volunteer basis we realized that a large portion of the needs they had were related to health, wellness, language and cultural barriers. That is when we opened Diversified Health Management in 2004, a home care agency."

Having been welcomed to the United States, they now are paying it forward, not only contributing significantly to their community’s economy but also making sure their neighbors stay healthy and helping them thrive.

They started the Laotian Mutual Assistance Association, through which they welcomed hundreds of refugees, helping families transition from camps in Asia to their new lives in the American Midwest.

Together with her husband and two grown sons, Bounthanh has been serving the community for years, growing the family businesses in home healthcare and job placement that together employ nearly 250 people and contribute more than $3 million annually to Columbus’ economy.

Immigrant Innovators

Annual business income generated by immigrant-owned businesses in Ohio
Share of business owners who are immigrants in Ohio
Percent of Columbus residents who are foreign born

Report: Impact of Refugees on Central Ohio

The 2015 report, Impact of Refugees on Central Ohio, recognizes that immigrants and refugees are strong responsible contributors to the Central Ohio socio-economic infrastructure. As a welcoming and receiving community to immigrants and refugees, Columbus continues to be rewarded by the addition of new businesses, talent, and cultural riches that refugees create and share within our community.

Read the full report

About Columbus, OH

The City of Columbus is a Welcoming America member, part of a growing network of municipalities and nonprofits across the United States that recognize the important ways that new Americans make communities stronger economically, socially, and culturally.

Ohio’s growing roster of Welcoming Cities and Counties are helping tip the scale toward inclusive attitudes and policies on immigration. Five of the state’s six largest cities are active Welcoming America members: Cincinnati, Columbus, Toledo and surrounding Lucas County, Akron and surrounding Summit County, and Dayton. Cleveland is also engaged via the nonprofit Global Cleveland. Local Welcoming America members have formed the statewide Ohio Welcoming Initiatives network, which advocates at the state level for immigrant-friendly policies and practices. Ohio mayors also have echoed a proactive and forward-looking message, especially in the face of national flashpoints around immigration.

These communities understand that creating a culture where everyone feels welcome and can achieve their potential is not just the right thing to do, it’s also the smart thing that leads to prosperity for all of their residents.

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