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$619,000 Secured by Pingree to Support Immigrant Women Entrepreneurs in Maine

Community Project Funding will help the Greater Portland Immigrant Welcome Center launch a comprehensive entrepreneurial leadership training program to help prepare immigrant women and girls to pursue small business leadership and ownership

  • Greater Portland Immigrant Welcome Center

The Greater Portland Immigrant Welcome Center (GPIWC) will now have the funds needed to launch acomprehensive entrepreneurial leadership training program for immigrant women and girls in Maine, Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) announced today. Secured through Community Project Funding in the Fiscal Year 2023 government funding bill, $619,000 will help GPIWC create and launch their enterprise institute “Women Lead”, which will prepare immigrant women and girls to pursue small business leadership and ownership through a variety of services, including business mentorships, educational programming, language services, and assistance with marketing and finance.

“Maine has a robust and vibrant immigrant population, with a majority of new Mainers being women and girls. Despite this, immigrant women represent a significantly lower part of our workforce and earn on average 75% less than immigrant men. The Greater Portland Immigrant Welcome Center already supports a number of vital programs that help immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers when they arrive in Maine. This new program, specifically aims to help address the inequities between men and women by tailoring entrepreneurial, leadership, and job training programs for women in a safe, supportive environment,” Pingree said. “Supported by the federal funding I advocated for in the government funding bill, Women Lead will make a difference in the lives of immigrant women and girls, as well as Maine’s workforce and community, for years to come.”

"New Mainers continue to contribute to Maine's economy by joining the workforce, starting new businesses, purchasing businesses and homes, and paying taxes,” GPIWC Executive Director Reza Jalali said. “This Community Project Funding will support a project to empower immigrant women, who are often invisible, to become professionals and business leaders in Maine. ‘Women Lead’, this workforce development project, will offer mentorship to immigrant women, remove or lower current barriers to success, and support New Mainer women in accessing educational and training opportunities to facilitate their joining the Maine's workforce. I see it as an investment in future economic development that will benefit all Mainers."

GPIWC’s Women Lead program is one of 15 First District community projects submitted for funding by Pingree totaling $34.5 million in the annual Appropriations bill. 

Throughout her tenure in Congress, Pingree has been a strong advocate for supporting immigrants and asylum seekers. She is the author of the Asylum Seeker Work Authorization Act, legislation that aims to reduce the current 365-day waiting period for work authorization eligibility to 30 days, allowing an asylum seeker to apply for authorization as soon as the asylum claim is filed. This legislation would allow asylum seekers to gain work, be self-sufficient through the process of establishing roots in their new community and contribute to our economy.


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