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Rockefeller Foundation: Ark. immigration growth 4th fastest in U.S. | News

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Rockefeller Foundation: Ark. immigration growth 4th fastest in U.S.
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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- Data from a Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation study showed that Arkansas' immigrants provide a strong boost to the state's economy.

Researchers estimate for every dollar state and local governments spend on immigrants, the state's economy gains seven dollars.

Since 2000, the immigrant population has grown by 82 percent. Approximately 5 percent of Arkansas' overall population are immigrants.

A summary of the report's findings can be found here.

"It's fifty pages chocked full of valuable nuggets of information," said Steve Appold, Researcher at UNC Chapel Hill.

Information like immigrants make up five percent of the state's population. Forty-two percent of the 130,000 immigrants are here illegally. In 2010, immigrants contributed more to the state than they cost. Their net contribution is an estimated $3.4 billion.

"It generates about four percent of the state's gross domestic product, this immigrant population. So it's a significant factor and it's growing at a reasonably healthy rate," said Randy Zook, the President of the Arkansas Chamber of Commerce.

Zook said immigrants make the state younger as well.

"Our population, our normal or native population is aging and we need young new people coming to the state. We need to grow our population," said Zook.

Immigrants concentrate primarily in Northwest and Central Arkansas. Forty-four percent live in Washington, Benton and Sebastian Counties. Despite a national slowing of immigration, Arkansas remains steady.

"We've seen less of a slowdown. The economy here has been stronger than it has been nationally and that has made the climate of the state a bit more receptive," said Randy Capps with the Migration Policy Institute.

Twitter: @dustinbwilson1

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