Monday, June 3, 2013

GlobalPittsburgh and Vibrant Pittsburgh Join New Global Great Lakes Network; Attend Convening Meeting in Detroit

GlobalPittsburgh and Vibrant Pittsburgh are among the founding members of a new Global Great Lakes initiative designed to enhance regional efforts to attract, welcome and retain international newcomers, and to share best practices among immigrant economic development initiatives across the Midwest and beyond.  

Representatives of the two Pittsburgh non-profits will attend a convening session in Detroit on June 6, 2013 with other Great Lakes-metropolitan global initiatives from Detroit, Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Indianapolis and Lansing in partnership with a national group called WelcomingAmerica.

The convening session will include an open conference to share ideas and best practices from immigrant economic development initiatives across the Midwest and beyond. The day’s events will include national keynote speakers and examples of work underway in partner cities. For more information about the Global Great Lakes initiative, go to

“Growing the diversity of the Pittsburgh region including its New American population is a critical component of our work and mission,” said Melanie Harrington, CEO of Vibrant Pittsburgh. “Our participation in the Global Great Lakes Network provides our region with an opportunity to join neighboring regions that share a common goal to exchange promising practices and advance our common cause.”

Thomas Buell, Jr., Director of GlobalPittsburgh’s Study Pittsburgh and Marketing initiatives, said GlobalPittsburgh looks forward to learning from the experience of other cities in the Great Lakes Region in attracting and welcoming international newcomers, and to sharing the Pittsburgh story.

 “We have formed strong and growing partnerships with Vibrant Pittsburgh and other organizations here in the Pittsburgh area,” he said. “And we welcome the chance to expand that to include the larger region and carry our collective message of the importance and value of immigrants and international awareness.”

Since 2010, the participating Great Lakes metropolitan regions have developed independent local economic development initiatives to emphasize diversity and 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. 

The Global Detroit and Global Michigan initiatives – the latter started by Republican Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder – have focused economic development efforts on attracting and retaining immigrants, who are statistically more than twice as likely as native-born residents to start businesses and create jobs.

“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.”

A keynote speaker at the Global Great Lakes convening conference will be Richard Herman, an immigration attorney based in Cleveland and co-author of the book Immigrant, Inc., which describes the accomplishments of foreign-born entrepreneurs and their impact on the U.S. economy.

 “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,” Herman said.

GlobalPittsburgh coordinates a year-round series of activities and events to welcome international students, professionals and families, connecting them with the local community through its GlobalPittsburghCONNECT membership program. Formerly known as the Pittsburgh Council for International Visitors, GlobalPittsburgh also has worked for more than 50 years with the U.S. Department of State  to host delegations of government, business and community leaders from around the world to meet with their counterparts in the local community. And its Study Pittsburgh initiative has formed a growing consortium of the region’s colleges, universities and English Language Programs to attract and engage more international students. For more information, go to

Vibrant Pittsburgh, in collaboration with employers, colleges and universities, civic organizations and Affinity Groups, has mounted an ambitious strategy to ensure the Pittsburgh region’s economic competitiveness by attracting, retaining and elevating diverse talent for the region’s workforce. For more information, go to

The Global Great Lakes Convening will take place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law.

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