Adnan Hilton Pehlivan shut the doors of his Regent Square restaurant April 21 to throw a free dinner in appreciation of his customers, and he sent two customers on a trip to Turkey.
“I want to be a part of Pittsburgh. Anything I can do as a small-business owner, I will,” said Mr. Pehlivan, who came to the United States from Turkey in 1995 and worked in hotels before opening Istanbul Sofra in 2014.
Mr. Pehlivan joined Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald at a Tuesday news conference touting the economic benefits of immigration to the region.
“The 10-county Pittsburgh region’s 82,308 immigrant residents have a significant positive impact on southwestern Pennsylvania’s economy through high rates of workforce participation in key industries, tax contributions and spending power,” mayoral spokeswoman Katie O’Malley said.
Those claims were backed up by research from the Partnership for a New American Economy, which released its report “Advancing the Pittsburgh Region” on Tuesday.
“Immigrants work in Pittsburgh’s top industries like manufacturing, education and health care; strengthen the local tax base; and start businesses that create jobs in Allegheny County and across the region,” partnership chairman John Feinblatt said.
Betty Cruz of the mayor’s Welcoming Pittsburgh initiative said the report marks the first time the city has been able to capture the data and day-to-day impact of immigrants on the region.
“Today we have tangible numbers. Numbers that are showing it’s not just the welcoming heart of a city, it’s the economic growth of a region that is the biggest beneficiary: a resurgence in our economy that is being fueled by those coming from different countries,” Mr. Peduto said.
The report, which is available online at www.renewoureconomy.org/research/advancing-the-pittsburgh-region, said, in part, that the foreign-born population in Allegheny County holds $1.8 billion in spending power, or 6.3 percent of its total; and, in 2014, contributed $6.8 billion of the county’s $89.6 billion GDP, as well as $217 million in state and local taxes.
The region’s population declined 0.1 percent between 2009 and 2014, during which the foreign-born population increased by 7.9 percent, the report stated.