WE Global Network Launches Network for Immigrant Economic Development Initiatives Across America’s Rust Belt

Initiatives across the Rust Belt join historic partnership with Welcoming America and Global Detroit to welcome immigrants and revitalize regional economies. As the WE Global Network launches, Presidential taskforce recognizes efforts as a model national practice.

Today, Welcoming America, Global Detroit, and more than a dozen economic development initiatives throughout the nation’s Rust Belt launched the Welcoming Economies Global Network (WE Global Network). It is comprised of groups from across the Midwest working to tap into the economic development opportunities created by welcoming immigrants.

“In the 20th century, the Rust Belt housed industrial powerhouses like the U.S. steel, coal, and auto industries, but today it is entrepreneurial partnerships between immigrants and local communities that are fueling the region’s economies,” said David Lubell, Executive Director of Welcoming America. “The WE Global Network recognizes that if we’re to remain competitive in the global economy, we must support and maximize the efforts of local initiatives that welcome, retain, integrate, and empower immigrant communities.”

As regional leaders of immigrant innovation, the WE Global Network is comprised of local immigrant economic development organizations working in 10 states to promote immigrants as valued contributors to local economies. Members of the network benefit from peer-to-peer learning exchanges, policy and research tools developed for immigrant economic development organizations, access to technical assistance, and other capacity building resources.

“Competing in a twenty-first century economy will require taking full advantage of our most important resource—our people, and that means welcoming the new Americans who are starting businesses, committing to our community, and helping build a stronger local economy” said Global Detroit Executive Director Steve Tobocman. “Communities across the country and around the world are in a race to the top to attract the human capital that will allow them to thrive in a global economy. Becoming a more welcoming place for immigrants gives us a leg up in that competition and helps us retain talented people of all backgrounds.“

The WE Global Network launch comes on the heels of yesterday’s White House release of a report featuring these efforts as a national best practice. Created by the White House Task Force on New Americans, the report affirms that immigrants and refugees contribute significantly to the United States’ continued economic prosperity and are also critical to our country’s social and cultural fabric. The Task Force is an interagency effort to develop a coordinated federal strategy to better integrate immigrants and refugees and build welcoming communities. Click here for the report, which will soon be available at: www.whitehouse.gov/newamericans.

H-1B Day of Action Recap

On Thursday, April 9th, two days after the federal government closed the H-1B application process for FY 2016, WE Global Network members and partners across the region, especially our partners at the Great Lakes Metro Chambers of Commerce, joined together on a Day of Action to spread the word that immigrants can be a critical piece of our economic growth in the Midwest. Specifically, nearly a half dozen WE Global members held press conferences, issued press releases, and wrote letters to the editor highlighting that immigrants are helping Midwest companies fill unmet talent needs and providing our region some of the world’s best and brightest so that our local companies expand and are able to hire additional Americans.

The H-1B cap is not just an issue for Silicon Valley or the coasts. In fact, according to new research from the Brookings Institution, metro areas like Detroit and Chicago utilized more H-1B visas recently than Boston, the Research Triangle, or Seattle.

Yesterday, the federal government released the actual number of H-1B applications filed during the five-day period starting April 1, 2015 during which applications were accepted. Again, the nation’s demand for H-1B talent reached a new record high with 233,000 applications filed for the 85,000 visas. This is a 35 percent increase from the 172,5000 filed in April 2014. This is a pretty startling statistic when you consider that it can cost an employer some $5,000 to file the application and, based upon historic trends, employers are really only likely to have a 50 percent chance of their application winning the H-1B lottery (a chance that has declined to 36 percent this year).

In any event, last week’s WE Global efforts helped spread the word about this issue in areas of the country that may have lower immigration numbers and that may be unaware of the issue’s importance. Below is a collection of the media generated:





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