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Employers and agencies connect at Refugee Employment Summit

Mayor of Kent Suzette Cooke delivers a welcome address.

Eighty-three attendees representing 44 community partners and 39 business/employment partners joined together for the inaugural Refugee Employment Summit hosted at Green River's Kent Campus on Oct. 8. Together they discussed ways skilled immigrants and refugees could help employers fill important positions.

The summit successfully created stronger connections between local businesses, social service agencies and the refugee population in Kent.

Jared Othieno, Human Resource Manager of Chesterfield Services Inc. moderated the summit. The Honorable Mayor of Kent Suzette Cooke delivered a welcome and was followed by key note speaker Rhiela Arroyo, Assistant Human Resource Director at Double Tree by Hilton, Sea-Tac Airport.

Employers heard from other businesses that have reaped the rewards of hiring immigrants and refugees; they also got the opportunity to ask questions directly to agency representatives. Topics covered included federal tax incentives, no-cost support and resources, and training techniques for immigrants and refugee employees.

The event concluded with group breakout sessions covering the following topics:

  • Best Practices for Working with Refugee Employees
  • Why Employers Should Hire Refugees
  • Working with Refugee Employment Programs
  • Learning from Refugee Leaders and Ethnic Communities

Each attendee completed a survey before leaving the event. More than 72 percent of employers who did not hire refugees at the time reported that they were more likely to hire them as a direct result of the event.