St. Pete ranked #13 in national immigration integration assessment

BY J.A. JONES, Staff Writer

ST. PETERSBURG – On Monday, Sept. 17, also observed as Constitution/Citizenship Day, Mayor Rick Kriseman joined with other officials on the steps of City Hall to share St. Petersburg’s impressive ranking in the new national New American Economy (NAE) ranking of 100 cities.

The NAE Cities Index reviews how well cities are supporting immigrant integration by measuring local policies and socioeconomic outcomes among the 100 largest American municipalities.

St. Pete 13th ImmigrationSt. Petersburg ranked an admirable 13 out of 100 nationally and was number one in Florida. Other large cities among the 100 on the list were Miami (ranked #29), Orlando (#42), Jacksonville (#46), Hialeah (#79) and Tampa (#84).

Out of a scale from one to five, St. Pete had an overall socioeconomic score of 4.5 and a 2.80 overall policy score. According to the data, there are 27,000 immigrants making up 11 percent of St. Petersburg’s population – a number that doubles in Tampa with 54,000 immigrants listed.

Flanked by Deputy Mayor Dr. Kanika Tomalin, St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership CEO Jason Mathis and St. Petersburg Economic Development Council president J.P. DuBuque, Mayor Kriseman thanked the NAE for highlighting how vital smart immigration policy is to the economy in St. Pete and the country.

“There is no denying the data; immigrants power our economy, and we are stronger because of them,” shared the Mayor. “We have worked hard these past few years to create a climate in St. Petersburg where the sun shines on all, and where opportunity is abundant.”

Kriseman stated that this becomes clear when one walks down Central Avenues and pointed to the owners of Pin Wok & Bowl, Som and Roger Rattanachane, indicating that they represented the “international flavor of our city.”

“Som moved here from Thailand just ten years ago, and she’s living the American Dream – making people happy with good food, and making St. Petersburg a better city,” related Kriseman, asserting that the young woman was the “face of entrepreneurship in America.”

He also said we should make it easier for immigrants to start up businesses by granting start-up visas to foreign-born entrepreneurs who “have the ideas and the capital,” and also believes we should ensure that graduating international students skilled in the STEM fields remain here.

“They are the young people we want populating the innovation district that Deputy Mayor Tomalin spearheaded a few years ago. We can’t afford to lose this kind of talent,” he stated, saying the young graduates represented the kind of talent that will ensure that businesses come here and thrive here.

For more information on the NAE Cities Index visit

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