Chamber News

Workforce Report | Weaving a Tapestry

August 18th, 2021

Weaving a Tapestry

As we wrap up New Americans in Our Economy, a limited educational series brought to us with the generous support of NiSource Foundation/Columbia Gas of Ohio, I am reminded of the importance of connecting the threads and collaborating for successful outcomes. 

With nearly 190,000 foreign-born people living in the Columbus area, it is important to understand their critically important impact on our economy. Over 70% of the foreign-born population in Columbus participate in the workforce, compared to 68% of the city’s native population. We have long been a community that has grown and prospered by embracing and employing those who have come from other parts of the world. Welcoming our refugee and immigrant families makes our city more vibrant and creates a stronger economy.

The series included the work and efforts of Community Refugee and Immigration Services (CRIS) and Jewish Family Services, and highlighted to efforts of Tara Dhungana and Tariq Mohamed, at their respective agencies. 

Connecting the Threads

Under United States law, a refugee is someone who: Is located outside of the United States and is of special humanitarian concern to the United States. A refugee demonstrates that they were persecuted or held fear of persecution due to race, religion, nationality, political opinion, or membership in a particular social group. 

There is a long and thorough vetting process and before refugees arrive in the United States. Organizations like CRIS provide comprehensive case management and core services to newly arriving refugee families and individuals of varying cultures, languages, and countries of origin. The case management team, many of whom are former refugees themselves, provides strengths-based case management as refugees work towards securing basic needs for their family, connecting to social, health, educational, and career services, and learning the necessary skills to support their new life in the United States. 

Jewish Family Services is a community-based organization whose mission is to strengthen individuals, families, and the community. They help individuals of all races, ethnicities, and religions in the two most important aspects of their lives: family and work. Through a unique combination of mental health and workforce development services, the team at Jewish Family Services helps people and families become stronger.

The New Americans in Our Economy series served to create awareness, educate and connect agencies to the businesses that can benefit from the skills and talents of this underutilized pipeline. 

We encourage our members and community partners to engage with Tara ( and Tariq ( to begin building an infrastructure to include refugees in your hiring strategy.

Kelly Fuller Headshot
Kelly Fuller
Workforce Development Director