An Immigrant’s Guide to Supporting Your Local Community

As a recent immigrant, you may want to know how you can get involved in your local community and form new friendships while you're at it. One of the ways you can do that is by supporting the small businesses right in your new hometown.

The best way to show that support is to buy their products and use their services whenever you can, rather than patronize national chain establishments. Of course, not all communities offer the same variety of shops and businesses, but your local Chamber of Commerce will help you get to know what companies are in your town.

El Pavo Bakery presents some helpful tips that can help you discover ways to give back to your local community.

Shop Local for Food

Whether you live in a large city or a tiny, rural town, you can support your neighbors by buying food from locally owned markets, farm stores, bakeries, dairy bars, or butchers. Though this practice is second nature to many citizens of other countries, not all Americans shop this way.

It is easy to favor the convenience and competitive prices of large grocery store chains and superstores, but the fact is, much of the fresh food they offer is not from local vendors. Buying fruits and vegetables that are grown locally will ensure you get a fresher product that is likely organic, too. Similarly, buying specialty products like cakes and other baked goods from a local shop, especially when that shop is immigrant-owned and operated like El Pavo Bakery, ensures you’re getting a higher quality product made with a lot more love and care than an item you’d find at a grocery store chain.

Plus, when you're a regular shopper at these small, local businesses, you have the opportunity to get to know people better, share some of your experiences, and even purchase some non-perishable items you can send back to family and friends.

Eat at Local Restaurants

One of the beauties of American culture is the availability of a wide variety of restaurants offering a wide variety of foods. You probably want to try some typical American cuisine, but depending on where you live, you may also have access to foods from other countries and cultures you've never sampled. Ask your neighbors for their recommendations on where to eat and what 'hole in the wall' restaurants you should check out — especially if they're international restaurants. This is a great way to get to meet other immigrants with whom you may share similar experiences and stories; you could even offer to share a meal or family recipe from your own culture.

Bank Locally

Branches of national and global banks exist in nearly every community, but usually, there are local banks and credit unions as well. Though small, they're great choices for almost any banking needs you may have. Though it can be difficult for local banks to compete with the megabanks, they do offer some advantages like free checking accounts, competitive rates on loans and savings accounts, personal attention and a community feel.

It’s worth noting that even if you plan to put your money in a locally-owned bank, it’s in your best interest to find an alternate method of sending funds to your family back home. While many immigrants choose to support family in their home countries, using bank transfer services to send these funds can be fairly expensive. Instead, turn to an online remittance app like Remitly, which offers quick and secure transfers as well as great exchange rates from dollars to rupees, and you never pay more than $3.99, which is considerably less than what you would spend to send money through your bank.

Start a Local Business

At some point down the road, once you’ve gotten settled in and comfortable, you may decide that it’s time to start your own local business. That way, you can help contribute to the community in your own way, whether it’s through the services your business provides or the money you donate to charities and organizations. Of course, starting a business takes a lot of work and careful consideration, such as putting together a solid business plan and searching the cost to start an LLC in California. Despite the hard work, you’ll be able to contribute to your community in a very positive way while enjoying the benefits of working for yourself.

From choosing where to shop and get a haircut to deciding who can fix your car or re-shingle your roof, there are dozens of ways you can support small businesses in your local community as a new immigrant.


Written by Erik Kelly of