ASHEVILLE, N.C. (WLOS) — The numbers are impressive, according to a report from the New American Economy, a national bi-partisan research and advocacy organization that uses U.S. Census bureau data.
According to the report, foreign-born workers contributed just under $1 billion to the area's Gross Domestic Product in 2016.
Kate Brick, of the New American Economy, works with Chambers of Commerce across the nation. She explained how the Asheville area's small immigrant population -- just more than 5 percent -- is having a big impact.
"We found that 23.4 percent of our population growth came from our immigrant community," Brick said. "We know how important population growth is to economic growth for providing our tax base, our workforce, people who are starting new businesses."
The report also shows foreign-born households in the area earned $489 million, with just more than $72 million going to federal taxes and $41 million going to state and local taxes.
John Oswald is president and CEO of Mills Manufacturing, which makes parachutes for the military.
Oswald said about a third of his workers are Hispanic and another third are from Eastern Europe.
"We have five languages in the plant. We have translators who are on the floor. We have translators we can bring in if necessary," Oswald explained. "We just really try to do everything we can to support the different cultures we have."
Oswald is one of several local employers who have hired many immigrants over the years. Other employers mentioned the importance of including immigrant employees' families in things like company picnics, childcare and language classes.
"It's challenging. It's time consuming, but, it's worthwhile," Oswald said of his company's investment in foreign-born workers.