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Marketplace

What makes the dollar strong?

Aug 23, 2019

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The Big Promise

How Trump’s policies can impact local economies

Kai Ryssdal Jan 30, 2017
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A factory in Erie County, PA. 
Maitham Basha-Agha/Marketplace

This past weekend was an interesting one for America, but our focus today is the response to President Donald Trump’s executive order on refugee admission to this country.

Tech leaders, including Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg and Airbnb’s Brian Chesky, were some of the first to speak up against it, but it’s not just big tech companies who are likely to be affected by the travel ban.

Dylanna Jackson, director of the International Institute, a refugee and immigrant resettlement agency in Erie, Pennsylvania, shared that immigrants who come into the offices for services were disappointed.

Dylanna Jackson is a director of a resettlement program in Erie. 

“They believe in the American system and, you know, I think this was a huge disappointment to them.”

Jackson noted that the travel ban would impact both the International Institute and local businesses who could employ immigrants in Erie.

“I mean, a nonprofit is still a business, and we still have to operate with a positive bottom line. It’s a negative impact on a local economy that really needs people employed. We estimate that there’s roughly about 20,000 refugee and immigrant individuals here in town. You’re talking, you know, roughly 150-200 people employed. So you know that’s going to change the landscape of the city, that’s going to change the diversity here. We’re just waiting to see how that changes.”

We talked to a bunch of people while we were in Erie, Pennsylvania, two weeks ago in both nonprofit and for-profit businesses.

Cary Quigley is president of Sterling Technologies, a rotational molding plastics manufacturer. When we first spoke with him, Quigley mentioned he had been excited at the prospect of a Trump presidency. 

“You know, we’re still pretty excited about it” Quigley said. “Some of the previous predecessors, they talked about change. We feel excited. We feel like President Trump’s in place and we’re starting to see change.”

Sterling Technologies’ Cary Quigley.

While he approves of Trump’s pro-business platform, he mentioned there is some concern about immigration policy.

You know, we have to be somewhat concerned. We have approximately 25 percent of our workforce right now are immigrants. Now, some of those people have been with us for six years now, and they’ve certainly done a great job, but a lot of the workforce that that is fueling that workforce for us, that unskilled labor in our area, it is in immigrant workforce. So there is some concern there.”

Quigley remains optimistic about his company’s future.

“We’re busy, backlog still looks good. We’ve got some expansion that we’re working with, so next six months for us right now looks looks pretty decent. You know, we’re excited to hopefully maybe see some change with with what’s going on with the Affordable Care Act…. I mean it’s something that we’re worried about every year until I guess we get to the finish line [of a replacement]. I think it is something we’re concerned about because it’s got such a heavy weighted cost, what it can do to us as a small company.”

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