Global Detroit Promotes Immigration Initiatives at Seminar


DETROIT — Global Detroit, in partnership with Welcoming America, Gov. Rick Snyder’s Global Michigan effort, and a half dozen other Midwest global metropolitan initiatives from Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Indianapolis, and Lansing, are convening in Detroit to discuss creating a Global Great Lakes Nework on Thursday. 

 The first day will be devoted to an open conference designed to share ideas and best practices from immigrant economic development initiatives across the Midwest and beyond. The day’s events include national keynote speakers, examples of work underway in partner cities, and networking opportunities.

The Global Great Lakes Convening will be held from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law, in downtown Detroit, 651 East Larned St. The convening is sponsored by the Michigan Economic Development Corp., Quicken Loans, Delta Airlines, The Fakhoury Law Group, University of Detroit Mercy Law School, and the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce. 

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“We want to create culture change by fostering immigrant economic development strategies to help internationalize the region and capitalize on immigration as an economic catalyst,” said Steve Tobocman, Global Detroit director and a former state representative and former Michigan House Majority Floor Leader. “This is a first step in building a Global Great Lakes Network.  It can be a game changer for the Midwest’s global economic competitiveness.”

Since 2010, these seven Midwest metropolitan regions each developed an independent local economic development initiatives that seek to capitalize on immigration as an economic development opportunity.  These cities share a legacy of heavy industry and problems resulting from industry’s decline, including substantial urban population loss.  Tapping into their Midwestern sensibility and Global Great Lakes Conference, pragmatism, these programs create an unlikely approach to the controversial topic of immigration — one that differs from some of the public discourse around the rest of the country.

The Midwest is a rapidly aging region with stagnant population growth, but with incredible historical assets, including strong agriculture, a recovering manufacturing sector, world-leading research universities, industrial design strengths, growing creative industries, incredible access to water and international markets, and an economic transition into the new economy—all of which are benefitted by robust immigration.

“While Washington continues to  struggle with this issue, our Rust Belt cities are embracing a more global future, seizing their own destinies by welcoming immigrant talent, international investment, and international trade that will create jobs and a higher standard of living in inner-city neighborhoods and across the metro region,” said Richard Herman, an immigration attorney and founder of the Herman Law Group, nationwide immigration law firm serving world-class employers and individuals. Herman is a nationally-renowned commentator on immigration, global diversity, and international business. He is the co-author of Immigrant Inc. and will be one of the keynote speakers on Thursday.