Because immigrants are settling in areas outside of the Twin Cities, the
African Development Council
(ADC) decided to begin reaching out beyond its Minneapolis offices.
pattern of movement with African immigrants is changing," says Hussein
Samatar, ADC's Executive Director. "They were coming to the Cities in
the beginning, but gradually, they've been moving outside the metro for
job opportunities or housing, or to have more space for their children."
In order to offer assistance to those in other cities, the ADC
recently purchased a building in Willmar to serve as a regional
satellite office, with plans to open in mid-September. A new location in
Rochester opened in June to serve those in that region of the state.
Samatar notes that in downtown Willmar, more than 40 percent of
businesses are owned by African or Latino people.
established in 2003, with its first major funding and full-time staff
positions coming just a year later. The group believes that immigrant
groups help to revitalize neglected neighborhoods, boost the economy
through new businesses, and increase home ownership. The organization
focuses on these areas with strategic lending, housing assistance, and
According to a report by The Minneapolis
Foundation, about 13 percent of the state's foreign-born residents are
from Africa--a higher percentage than in any other U.S. state. Most
Africans have come to Minnesota from Somalia, Liberia, and the Sudan,
according to the ADC, but there's an increasing influx from Nigeria,
Ethiopia, and Eritrea as well.
ADC formed to fill a gap that some saw with mainstream development corporations and the complex needs of African immigrants.
as the group is expanding northward and southward outside the metro, it
got some help itself recently, when it garnered a two-year grant from
the Otto Bremer Foundation. Samatar points out that Bremer's founder was
a German immigrant, who came to the U.S at a different time, but faced
many of the same business and housing issues that still challenge
"We feel that there are so many opportunities
where we can provide services, and the grant will help us to keep
expanding and serving more people," says Samatar. "We're always seeing
where we can fill in gaps and provide assistance."
Source: Hussein Samatar, African Development Council
Writer: Elizabeth Millard