New Brunswick’s chief economist says Moncton needs to bring in up to 3,000 immigrants a year to support a healthy economy, which is triple the current rate of those moving to the city.

Justin Ryan with the Greater Moncton Multicultural Association says it’s an achievable goal, and it can be done through attraction and retention.

“There's no good in getting 3,000 people here if 3,000 aren't compelled to stay,” says Ryan.

But some fear immigration leads to fewer job opportunities for people born in the country. Ryan says it’s the other way around.

“The idea that immigrants come here and create jobs or reserve jobs is one of the biggest missing dialogues in understanding the economic impact of immigration,” he says.

Much of the city’s growth will partially come from the Atlantic Growth Pilot, a program aimed at pairing immigrants' skills with employers who need them.

“We also recognize there is well over a 1,000 international students that live here and a large portion of these students want to stay in the region so we see the Atlantic Growth Pilot, as well as all the other immigration streams, as a great opportunity,” says Moncton immigration officer Angelique Reddy-Kalala.

Another tactic is through the refugee program. Those fleeing conflict will eventually establish themselves in Moncton, then hopefully encourage family and friends to do the same.

“Certainly there is a long-term flow and effect post-conflict in terms of regular economic and independent immigration,” says Ryan.

Syrian refugee Hagob Sarkis believes he and his brother are prime examples. They plan to settle in the city after running from war in Syria.

“My job is a machinist,” said Sarkis. “I like to work in my job, but if I can't find my job I have no problem working another job.”

Ryan says there are more jobs available in Moncton than there are people looking for work. Filling those vacancies is crucial for the city to support its economy and continue to grow.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Jonathan MacInnis.