News / USA

    Immigrant's Success in US Creates Great Opportunities for Many

    Immigrant's Success Creates Abundant Opportunities for Many Othersi
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    June 21, 2013 8:54 PM
    America is often called “The Land of Opportunity.” And in 2011 alone, more than a million immigrants became permanent residents on the path to citizenship. Many come to the U.S. to escape hardships where they live, and some to give their children better opportunities. But for those with an entrepreneurial spirit, the United States sometimes helps them realize their dreams. And when that happens, it can change other people's lives as well. Arash Arabasadi of VOA's Persian News Network has one example.
    Immigrant's Success Creates Abundant Opportunities for Many Others
    America is often called “The Land of Opportunity.” And in 2011 alone, more than a million immigrants became permanent residents on the path to citizenship. Many come to the U.S. to escape hardships where they live, and some to give their children better opportunities. But for those with an entrepreneurial spirit, the United States sometimes helps them realize their dreams. And when that happens, it can change other people's lives as well.

    What you’re looking at is the 'American Dream.' Ali Saifi left Iran nearly 40 years ago to start a life in the United States.  

    “It’s a most interesting country because it allows you to do what you want to do,” he said.

    What he wanted to do was open a restaurant. So in 1981 he did just that, acquiring a Subway franchise in Greenville, South Carolina.

    “This is the very first Subway that we opened in Greenville 30 years ago,” said Saifi as he shows the store.

    Today he has more than 400 stores.  

    “400 restaurants employ nearly 4,000 people.”

    The payroll for those 4,000 people is an estimated $40 million. And the taxes they pay on that money are about $6 million.

    “Then there’s a significant amount of non-direct employees. The food distributor. The truck driver. The packers. All of these people that we buy products from and they deliver to us,” said Saifi.

    That’s the other part of the American Dream. The dream that one man’s success can help others realize their dreams, too.

    “This store is a lot more to me than just my job. It’s kind of part of my life,” said Lakim Campbell, who manages one of the Subway restaurants for Saifi.

    She joined Subway a couple of years ago as an employee earning the minimum wage.

    “Three months after starting I became pregnant, and I was out three weeks and I came back. I started right back where I left off,” she said.

    Campbell worked her way up to a manager's job.

    And with management, came benefits like paid vacations, paid sick days, and healthcare.  

    “It was really great for me. To be able to get insurance, to be able to go to the doctor whenever I need to, and not whenever I could afford to,” she said.

    And not just for Campbell, but health benefits for her newborn child, and a roof over both of their heads. Now, multiply that by 4,000, and that’s the type of impact this one man has had.  

    But not every shop Saifi opens is a financial success.

    “He was willing to take a chance on a restaurant that perhaps profits were going to take a second place to people,” said Crystal Hardesty. She’s the regional marketing director for Goodwill Industries. It's a non-profit organization that trains people for low paying, entry level jobs.
     
    Saifi helped Goodwill open a Subway restaurant within the store to prepare people for jobs in the food service industry.

    “A lot of us see a job as something simple. Perhaps we take it for granted. But for a lot of people that really is something that they perhaps thought was unattainable, and, when they have that, it really changes their whole outlook on life,” said Hardesty.

    “They train people less fortunate than the rest of us… the people that you and I would typically not hire. With a checkered past or maybe abused, battered women. This is an entity that gives you a hand up, not a handout,” said Saifi.

    During its 2012 fiscal year, the Greenville Goodwill helped find jobs for nearly 7,300 people - people who otherwise might have depended on taxpayer-funded assistance programs. Instead, they collectively earned more than $75 million. All because of help from one man who came to the United States chasing his own dream.

    Arash Arabasadi

    Arash Arabasadi is an award-winning multimedia journalist with a decade of experience shooting, producing, writing and editing. He has reported from conflicts in Iraq, Egypt, the Persian Gulf and Ukraine, as well as domestically in Ferguson, Missouri, and Baltimore, Maryland. Arash has also been a guest lecturer at Howard University, Hampton University, Georgetown University, and his alma mater, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He lives in Washington, D.C., with his wife Ashley and their two dogs.

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    by: Lance Johnson from: USA
    June 22, 2013 12:33 PM
    An interesting new worldwide book/ebook that helps explain the role, struggles, and contributions of immigrants and minorities is "What Foreigners Need To Know About America From A To Z: How to understand crazy American culture, people, government, business, language and more.” It paints a revealing picture of America for those who will benefit from a better understanding. Endorsed by ambassadors, educators, and editors, it also informs those who want to learn more about the last remaining superpower and how we compare to other nations on many issues.
    As the book points out, immigrants and minorities are a major force in America, as Mr. Romney and the GOP recently discovered. Immigrants and the children they bear account for 60 percent of our nation’s population growth and own 11 percent of US businesses and are 60 percent more likely to start a new business than native-born Americans. They represent 17 percent of all new business owners (in some states more than 30 percent). Foreign-born business owners generate nearly one-quarter of all business income in California and nearly one-fifth in New York, Florida, and New Jersey. In fact, forty percent of Fortune 500 companies were started by an immigrant or a son of an immigrant, making for 10 million jobs and seven out of ten top brands in our country.
    They come to improve their lives and create a foundation of success for their children to build upon, as did the author’s grandparents when they landed at Ellis Island in 1899 after losing 2 children to disease on a cramped cattle car-like sailing from Europe to the Land of Opportunity. Many bring skills and a willingness to work hard to make their dreams a reality, something our founders did four hundred years ago. In describing America, chapter after chapter chronicles “foreigners” who became successful in the US and contributed to our society. However, most struggle in their efforts and need guidance in Anytown, USA. Perhaps intelligent immigration reform, White House/Congress and business/labor cooperation, concerned citizens and books like this can extend a helping hand, the same unwavering hand that has been the anchor and lighthouse of American values for four hundred years.
    Here’s a closing quote from the book’s Intro: “With all of our cultural differences though, you’ll be surprised to learn how much…we as human beings have in common on this little third rock from the sun. After all, the song played at our Disneyland parks around the world is ‘It’s A Small World After All.’ Peace.” www.AmericaAtoZ.com

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