RUTLAND, Vt. (NEWS10) – After months of planning, an official date has been set for the arrival of Syrian refugees in the Town of Rutland.
Where exactly the families will be living once they arrive in Rutland is expected to be worked out over the next several days.
The first Syrian family is expected to arrive sometime next month, with up to 100 refugees total relocating to Rutland.
Rutland Mayor Christopher Louras says Rutland is a great location for the refugees to resettle because the town has a number of jobs which need to be filled.
The community stood divided when the idea of welcoming Syrian refugees was first introduced.
Town officials say people’s concerns started to fade once the Department of State approved the decision.
“I know some people who thought this was a poor idea are now turning their energy to the coming year to perhaps argue that 100 is too large of a number and we should have less in the coming year,” said Board of Aldermen member William Notte.
The resettlement is currently in its vetting state, and the composition of the families to be resettled is still up in the air.
The original plan was for one Syrian family to arrive in Rutland every week.
Notte says the Vermont Refugee Resettlement Program recently found a spot for a downtown office, and is looking to fill three positions.
Workshops have also been held for volunteers interested in learning how to help the refugees adapt once they arrive.
“It’s just an understanding of where the refugees are coming from as far as mindset, and as far as the remarkable transition they’re going through,” said Notte.
Mayor Louras says Rutland’s population has been drastically declining, with an unemployment rate of around 3.6% to 3.9%. He says the resettlement program could be an economic boost for the town.
“We have hundreds of employment opportunities that are going unfilled right now,” said Mayor Louras. “Businesses are screaming for bodies to fill positions so they can grow their business.”
City officials say President-Elect Donald Trump has made comments about shutting out refugees, but if it does come down to a federal level out of their control, they say they will still welcome anyone in need.