The mission of the Welcoming Economies Global Network is to facilitate the success of the local organizations and programs that are implementing immigrant economic development initiatives across the 10-state WE Global region. No list could adequately describe our collective success in 2015, but here are some local highlights:
- The Neighborhood Development Center of Minneapolis/St. Paul and Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians in Philadelphia were both prominently featured as model programs in the groundbreaking research by David Kallick at the Fiscal Policy Institute, in conjunction with the Americas Society/Council on the Americas on immigrant Main Street business ownership and its impact in American cities.
- Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown opened a Mayor’s Office of New Americans (headed by Jessica Lazarin), while Mayor Duggan in Detroit created two new mayor offices—the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (headed by Fayrouz Saad) and the Mayor’s Office of International Affairs (headed by Julie Egan).
- In June, Betty Cruz at the Pittsburgh Mayor’s Office spearheaded the launch of a Welcoming Pittsburgh plan to build a more welcoming experience for immigrants and a more livable city for all.
- Syracuse member Northside Urban Partnership launched an alliance with CenterstateCEO that will enable it to expand its successful workforce development and entrepreneurship work with immigrants and other diverse communities in the Northside neighborhood of Syracuse to other parts of the city.
- In October, Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley announced plans to create an immigrant welcoming center for the Greater Cincinnati region. The City of Cincinnati and the University of Cincinnati have stepped up to provide funding to the project, which will be launched in 2016 by the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber, a WE Global member. This is a significant milestone in the Chamber’s work to build a more diverse talent base for the regional economy via its Diverse by Design initiative.
- Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley and five other mayors from key WE Global cities (Syracuse, Pittsburgh, Minneapolis, Chicago, and St. Louis) comprised a full one-third of the 18 mayors signing a letter to President Obama in September praising him for agreeing to accept Syrian refugees.
- WE Global members at the New Americans Initiative in Columbus and Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians saw new mayors elected in their respective cities, and are poised to continue their great work. Philadelphia’s new Mayor Jim Kenney was a founding board member of the Welcoming Center.
- In July, Welcome Toledo Lucas County completed a strategic operating plan that provides for joint staffing of their work between Brittany Ford at the Lucas County Board of Commissioners and Sarah Allan at the Toledo LISC office.
- Global Detroit assumed responsibility for the Michigan Global Talent Retention Initiative (GTRI), the international student retention program that it helped launch in 2011 and hired new staff to oversee its success.
- St. Louis Mosaic was able to hire its second staff person to greatly expand the program’s impact in entrepreneurship, international students and job connections. A study of local companies’ hiring of international talent was released in September. St. Louis Mosaic continues to draw national attention as an innovator in coordinating a regional strategy to attracting, welcoming, and retaining international talent.
- The Neighborhood Development Center of Minneapolis/St. Paul was honored in 2015 as the Minnesota Community Advantage Lender of the Year, for its micro-lending to immigrant and minority business owners. In 2015, NDC began to expand its unique work in the area of immigrant and minority micro-entrepreneurship through work and partnership with local efforts. Its work is now being replicated or studied for replication in at least three WE Global cities (Detroit, Syracuse, Philadelphia) as part of a recently- launched Build from Within Alliance to speed up and improve implementation of local micro-entrepreneurship in these cities, study its impacts, and aggregate resources across these cities.
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