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"The news about India in recent years has often focused on the outsourcing of American jobs to the Asian subcontinent, where companies can find cheaper labor -- even skilled technical and white-collar workers -- than in the United States.
But the story is much more complex. The Richmond area already has ties to India through a prosperous immigrant community that has contributed to the local economy in manufacturing, technology, medicine, professional services and hundreds of small businesses including hotels, restaurants and stores.
The owners of those businesses, some of whom came to the United States with little more than the money in their pockets, are now volunteers for charitable groups and often take leadership positions in economic development and business organizations.
Last year, an immigrant from India, Neil Gulati, was named Distinguished Retailer of the Year by the Retail Merchants Association of Greater Richmond. Gulati is president of Mattress King Inc., a chain of 26 stores he started in 1981 with a single store in what is now The Shops at Willow Lawn.
"Wherever Indians have gone all over the world, they have been engineers, doctors and businesspeople," said Gulati, who is originally from New Delhi. "It is part of the culture. Education is very important. Indians are taught to work hard, and be the best at whatever you do.""
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