PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) The mayor of Portland sat down with immigrant business owners to learn more about their growing role in the city's economy.
The mayor began his tour of the businesses this morning by taking a taxi owned by an immigrant from Barundi. Brennan then visited an import-export businesses owned by immigrants from Sudan and Nigeria.
The men sell a variety of international goods and export U.S. made products to Africa. The last stop was this Iraqi restaurant located in the city's Morrill's Corner neighborhood. Immigrant business owners shared with Brennan how they overcame barriers to get to this country and to own a piece of the American dream. Several say they support immigration reform if speeds up the backlog of processing immigrants, especially for those who are seeking political asylum.
'Minimize and cut the red tape cause right now, even for me right now, when I file something for my folks to come here, it takes two to three years just to start processing them, said Elijah Akilo, a Nigerian immigrant and the co-owner of Rubar International.
Brenna also informed residents that grants and loans are available through the city's economic development program to help them establish or expand their businesses.