Contributions of Asians to Maine Economy 

A new report says one of the fastest growing ethnic groups in Maine is also a growing contributor to the economic engine. The Maine Center for Economic Policy says the state’s Asian population increased by 49-percent in the last decade – generating millions of dollars in business. Connie Zhu, one of the project coordinators, says “Asian immigrants in Maine are no different from generations of immigrants who came here before them. They have come to America for a better life and they work hard to achieve it.”The liberal research group says that hard work pays off for the entire state. A report focusing on Asians in the Maine economy found in 2007 alone, Asian-owned businesses generated $284 million and employed more than 2,500 people.Researcher Vaishali Mamgain says, “The average or median age of Asians is younger than the median native Mainer. So when Asians come to our state, they have many more working years ahead of them in which they can contribute to the economy.”Zhu adds, “Contrary to the negative stereotypes of immigration, most immigrants are not here to drain Maine’s resources. They are a valuable resource.”Census figures show Asians and Latinos are the fastest growing ethnic groups in the U.S.Maine mirrors that trend, with more than 13,000 Asians last year, or about 1-percent of the population.Two years ago, the group released a similar report on the role of Latinos in the state.Researchers hope they’ll both help lawmakers develop policies for new Mainers. Consultant Robert Ho says, “The new immigrants represent a truly economic development asset. Question – what are the best ways to support them?”MECEP Project Manager Deborah Felder says, “We live in a multi-ethnic, multi-racial global economy. And if Maine is to remain relevant in the 21st century, we need to embrace the talents, skills and driver that immigrants and refuges bring to our state.”