Dozens of immigrants surveyed in a new poll volunteered the information that they find Philadelphians to be “nice, friendly, or patient.”
But the warmth of their welcome is not what convinces immigrants to stay.
The Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians wanted to understand what it will take to get them to stay. Its director of outreach, Amanda Bergson-Shilcock, says the center found people’s impressions of the region depended on the opportunities they encountered.
“It’s less about the ‘warm and fuzzies’ and more about the tangible outcomes,” she said. “Did you find a place to work? Were you able to launch your business? Did you find a place to live? Did your kids get enrolled in school. The substantive stuff matters.”
Those responses closely correlated to whether people planned to stay. Bergson-Shilcock calls this a “no-brainer” connection. Of the respondents who said they planned to leave, around half had a negative first impression of the area.
New immigrants are credited with contributing to Philadelphia’s recent population growth after five decades of decline.
The survey found that personal ties are a big part of what brings people to the region in the first place — and that new arrivals rapidly formed strong attachments to their own sections of the “city of neighborhoods.”