In late January, Welcoming Economies Global Network member Global Detroit was honored to receive one of the first-ever Renewal Awards, created by the National Journal and Atlantic magazines with Allstate, to recognize the innovators, grassroots organizers and problem-solvers who are making progress against the greatest challenges facing America. The awards identify and celebrate the efforts of six nonprofit initiatives across the country that are tackling vital issues, from education to economic opportunity, from health care to neighborhood revitalization.
National recognition of Global Detroit and its immigrant economic development efforts in Detroit signals widespread acceptance of immigration as an economic development and community renewal strategy. Global Detroit received this prestigious national award on the 5th anniversary of the beginning of its first programs. In the five years since the Global Detroit study and plan were unveiled in 2010, Global Detroit has worked with its partners across metro Detroit to implement no fewer than eight of the eleven strategies in the original Global Detroit study to help the region’s economic recovery by leveraging international talent to fill regional businesses’ unmet talent needs, catalyzing the growth and development of immigrant entrepreneurs, and building a global region with competitive advantages in job creation, business growth, and community development.
Where these ideas were once met by curious looks, they are now met with interest by peers across the Midwest and Northeast, and encouraged by the support of the Network. The environment to renew America’s economy is being set by Global Detroit and its Network peers. Research into the economic impact of immigrants and refugees is easier to come by, and tangible outcomes of immigrant economic development work are evident across the Welcoming Economies Global Network.
The Renewal Awards celebrate innovators that are renewing America from the ground up despite a national system mired in stalemate. Immigration reform is no stranger to stalemate, and any type of meaningful reform appears no closer despite immigration’s now constant (and heated) seat on the political stage. Despite the gridlock in Congress, however – or perhaps because of it – local and regional efforts to effectively integrate immigrants and refugees have surged with newfound allies and energy. Over the last few years, the growth in both number and scope of these programs is astounding, and reveals a strong momentum in the emerging field of immigrant economic development.
This award, an incredible recognition of how far local immigrant economic development efforts have come, honors Global Detroit and motivates its staff, board, supporters, and partners to continue to help revitalize Detroit and the metro region. Our nation still has much work to do to make America the best it can be for all its residents. We hope the Renewal Award is a catalyst for others to work with immigrant communities producing economic opportunity for the entire region by welcoming immigrants and encouraging regional economic development efforts to play a role not just in attracting immigrants, but also in retaining them and in enhancing their role in the community’s economic and social fabric.