‘This is my home now’: More Asian Americans are moving to this Sacramento County community

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After his naturalization ceremony at the Memorial Auditorium in 2015, YK Chalamcherla stepped into downtown Sacramento, picked up a small American flag being handed out by children, and breathed "a fresh breath."
He recalled thinking just an hour before the ceremony that the US was not his home and could ask him to leave at any time.
His mind had changed.
"This is my home now," he recalled as he thought as his eyes filled with tears recently.
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Chalamcherla, 51, has lived in Folsom since 2006 and is now a City Council member. He said he fell in love with the city after attending his friend's son's birthday party four years earlier when he originally bought his home. Folsom was where he finally decided to settle with his family after leaving India in 1998 and living in Singapore and the Bay Area for two years.
Chalamcherla is one of thousands of Asians who have moved to Folsom over the past 20 years.
The number of Asian Americans who call Folsom home has nearly doubled in the past decade and has more than quadrupled since 2000. According to the US Census Bureau, there were approximately 8,900 Asian residents in 2010. In 2021, there were about 15,900 Asian residents.
According to the data, approximately 20% of Folsom residents were identified as Asian in 2021, compared to 12% in 2010. The census definition of Asian does not include Pacific Islanders, and the largest Asian ethnic groups in Folsom are Asian Indians, Chinese and Filipinos.
Christine Brainerd, the communications director for the city of Folsom, said it's difficult for the city to say there's something unique that draws Asian parishioners to Folsom, but they're probably drawn to the city for the same reason that many residents are call Folsom home.
"I know anecdotally that we see members of the Folsom Asian Community, (and) any community members who are genuinely invested in their city, who participate, who regularly volunteer time in our community, who serve on Community Service Day and help volunteer in schools and contribute to the high quality of life that Folsom is known for.”
New housing will be built in Folsom along White Rock Road in October. The number of Asian Americans who call Folsom home has nearly doubled in the past decade and has more than quadrupled since 2000.
Folsom is a business center
Tracey Schaal leads the economic development team at the Sacramento Asian Pacific Chamber of Commerce. She said tech-based businesses in Folsom may be the reason Asian residents have moved to the area over the past decade.
"It would make sense that the large concentration would have to do with the sophisticated, technology-based companies that chose to locate in Folsom," Schaal said via email. “With the presence of employers like Intel, PowerSchool, Micron, all of whom have significant engineering needs, expertise certainly plays a role.”
Chalamcherla also said technology is a big factor in why Asia's population is growing. He said he's received welcome letters from companies in America proposing to come to the country and help with Y2K.
"Because Intel is here, our contributions are more focused on this: technology," Chalamcherla said. “The second contribution is that we I.T. So many people are joining the state workforce to bring technology into state departments. You see, by and large, some of us are helping to serve Californians.”
Intel officials said the company does not report site-level demographics. However, the national-level data shows that 36.3% of the company's workforce is Asian, followed by White employees at 44.1%.
Officials at PowerSchool, which is headquartered in Folsom, said they also don't have location data, but the company's 2021 Environmental, Social and Governance Report found that 13.85% of technical staff are Asian, while management staff are 11.51% Asian and the Asian are population meeting all other employee types is 3.71%.
The median household income of Asian Folsom households was about $142,000 in 2021, about 50% higher than the regional median, according to data from the US Census Bureau. About two-thirds of Asian households in Folsom own their homes.
"We're not limited to technology," Chalamcherla said, reaching into his wallet to pull out a single bill. “We are also growing towards financial innovation. That's what my mom said: If you have $10, save $1. If you earn something, save one. So I always keep the Indian rupee as a souvenir of my mother.”
Moneta Ventures is a venture capital firm founded in Folsom in 2014 by Lokesh Sikaria (51) and Sabya Das (30). She helps fledgling businesses by investing in early-earning post-product companies, with initial checks ranging from $1 million to $5 million.
Sikaria moved to the United States from India in 1990. He received his citizenship in early 2004 at the age of 32. Before founding the company, Sikaria said he previously worked in Folsom and found it to be a great community to live in. He noticed that there was no venture capital activity in Folsom and wanted to change that.
"We wanted to be a venture capital firm that invests here and focuses here (in Folsom)," Sikaria said.
Das was born in India, moved to the southern United States around the age of 2 and settled in Folsom at the age of 4. He obtained his citizenship with his parents in early 2011 and described the event as "an amazing experience".
"Growing up and being here with a green card, not being a citizen, has never felt different," Das said. "It wasn't anything that set me apart from my age group, which was a great experience growing up, but the opportunity to get citizenship was definitely a proud moment."
This currently manages Moneta's investments on the West Coast and internationally. He serves on several boards and supports founders in market strategy, product development and future fundraising.
Hady Abou ElKheir said the growing Asian population in Folsom played into the rationale he and his business partner chose to locate their first store in Folsom.
Abou ElKheir plans to open a Teaspoon location in Folsom next January. Teaspoon, a bubble tea franchise, opened its first store in Los Altos, California in 2015.
“There seems to be a fair amount of Asian population that Teaspoon benefits from, although Teaspoon caters to all audiences. We strive to deliver boba tea with classic American flavors," he said.
become a citizen
Steven Wang, 51, is the Folsom District Attorney.
Wang said his parents fled China when the communists took over the country. His grandfather put his father on the last plane. His father met his mother in Taiwan, but he said he didn't consider himself Taiwanese.
Wang became a US citizen in 1992, nine years after he came to the United States.
According to the U.S. About 60% of Folsom's Asian residents are foreign-born immigrants, according to the Census Bureau. About half of those born abroad are naturalized citizens.
Wang said the day he left Taiwan, he met a tall, blue-eyed blond man who approved or denied immigrant visas. The man refused everyone else, and Wang was scared when it was his turn.
When the man asked Wang where he wanted to go in the US, Wang said the only place he knew was Disneyland. Then the man let him, his brother and his mother through.
Wang enlisted in the US Army Reserves in 2004 at the age of 33. Today he is a lieutenant colonel.
Wang told The Bee that he was mobilized to the Pentagon for Operation Enduring Freedom in 2007-2008. He was deployed to Afghanistan for a 400-day tour from 2011 to 2012, but it was canceled near the end.
"We lost about 1.7 people a day," Wang said. “You can count – 365 days. It was hard."
Wang has been an employee of the City of Folsom since 2008, which has continued to support him on outreach projects since then.
"I don't know if every employer is like that, but Folsom has been very supportive of the military," he said.
Wang said when he started his job in Folsom, he commuted from the Bay Area but relocated for work. He lives with his wife, they have three children. He said they are a blended family because he had two children before they married and his wife had a daughter.
He said he will leave the military if his body breaks down.
First the family
Marcus Yasutake, 45, is the city of Folsom's environmental and water resources director.
He said he considers himself half Japanese and half Caucasian on his father's side. He is a fourth-generation Japanese immigrant.
Yasutake's father worked in agriculture in the Oxnard area because his parents, Yasutake's grandparents, owned a flower farm. Yasutake said that many of the workers his father and grandfather encountered were typically Spanish-speaking workers, so his father was fluent in Spanish.
Born in Oxnard, Yasutake attended Cal Poly San Luis Obispo from 1995 to 2001, where he met his wife.
Later in 2003, he and his wife applied for jobs in Placerville and Roseville. They were offered jobs at both locations, so they looked at an apartment complex in Folsom, a good halfway point, and moved.
Yasutake and his wife have three children. His stepson, 27, was born in 1995 and lives in Washington as a pharmacist. One of his daughters is in high school and the other is in middle school.
The vast majority of Asian households in Folsom, approximately 76%, are Census Bureau Married Families.
Yasutake said his heritage and that of his wife, who is Mexican, give his daughters the opportunity to learn more about themselves and their backgrounds. He said they could visit Japan or Mexico and learn about that culture.
"If maybe you're just purely Caucasian or purely Japanese or purely Mexican, you might not think, 'Oh, I might want to visit Japan or China or India or Germany or Sweden,'" Yasutake said. “On the other hand, because our girls have Japanese and Mexican and Swedish and Irish and Dutch and German, maybe they have more of a personal connection to visiting these different countries and learning a little bit more about these cultures just because they have a connection to them it."
The story goes on

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