LEWISTON — The good news: The city’s downtown economy has rebounded over the past decade thanks, in large part, to immigrant entrepreneurs. The not-so-good news: it’s not as vibrant as a it could be.

Or should be, according to some of the participants of a local round-table discussion held Monday afternoon at Lewiston Public Library.

The program, titled L/A Shines: Building Our Economic Success, was aimed at highlighting the success of the city’s multicultural businesses as “new Mainers” continue to open stores on Lisbon Street and elsewhere in the downtown area.

A panel included two Lisbon Street store owners as well as the president of the local Androscoggin Bank. Also featured was the head of a nonprofit lending agency that has helped 25 businesses access roughly $500,000 in business loans.

Bank President Paul Andersen, a co-founder of Monday’s program, dispelled many of the myths about immigrant populations that prejudice some city residents against their new neighbors.

Cities in states that have large immigrant populations do better economically, he said.

“It’s never a negative; it’s always a positive,” he said.

A study shows that for every immigrant that moves in to a community, that community’s housing values rise by 11.6 cents, he said.

Contrary to what some people believe, Andersen said, immigrants are not taking jobs away from exiting residents.

“There is no limit to the amount of jobs that we can create,” he said. In fact, he said, many studies show that job creation is likely when immigrants move in to a community.

Shukri Abasheikh, owner of Mogadishu Store at 240 Lisbon St., said she grew up in that Somali city, but moved to the United States in 1990. When she moved from Georgia to Maine, she worked at L.L. Bean, The Salvation Army and at Lewiston High School to earn enough money to open her store in 2006. It was so successful, she moved to a bigger space and also opened a take-out restaurant. And she bought the building that houses her business.

“I get success,” she said. “I good now.”

One of the keys to her success was Coastal Enterprises Inc., a private lender that works with new Americans who own or are seeking to start small businesses.

John Scribner, director of Start Smart, a free service, said CEI has worked with more than 200 clients. Of them, more than 60 have started or strengthened businesses in Maine.

While much of Monday’s discussion centered on touting the thriving immigrant businesses that have helped to transform the community’s local economy, input from audience members pointed to some of the weaknesses that continue to plague the city’s downtown area.

An Iranian woman praised the influx of stores that sell Middle Eastern spices and rice, items she used to travel to Boston or Canada to buy. She has introduced many of her friends to the local stores, she said, but suggested store owners price their goods as other American stores do. She also encouraged the local vendors to make eye contact with customers to let them know they’re welcome in their stores.

Hussein Ahmed, owner of Global Halal Market at 267 Lisbon St., sells food and clothing and provides various services such as bill paying and money transfers at his store.

He said he is making the cultural transition from a Somali mindset to that of an American businessman. He covers his store windows with cloth, not to discourage prospective customers from seeing his wares, but out of tradition, he said.

As a Muslim, he doesn’t carry cigarettes or alcohol in his store. That choice limits his customer base, he acknowledged.

“You will see a reflection of my culture in my store,” he said. “It will take time . . . but it will change slowly,” he said.

Some said some first generation immigrants struggle with the English language, finding it to be a barrier to success in the workplace. A lack of financial history or credit also is a hurdle for those new to this country, they said.

Others said there should be more integration of immigrant and non-immigrant businesses and talked about the need to expand the number of immigrants working in non-immigrant businesses, putting their multilingual skills and education to better use.

Most agreed that the next generation of new Mainers, equipped with fluent English and new technology skills, are poised to build on the successes of their parents.

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