Thursday, February 27, 2014

Pittsburgh to Host Global Great Lakes Conference in June; Discussion to Focus on Immigrant Attraction for Economic Growth, Connection with Underserved Communities

Pittsburgh has been selected to host the second annual convening of the Global Great Lakes Network on June 12, 2014, bringing together representatives of cities and organizations in the upper midwestern region working on immigrant-related economic development initiatives.

The focus of the day-long event, which is being hosted and organized locally by Vibrant Pittsburgh and GlobalPittsburgh, will be on attracting and retaining immigrants to the region to achieve economic growth, and also on ways to connect them with the existing population, especially underserved communities.

"We are excited to be hosting this event in Pittsburgh because it will allow participants to share best practices in this field, and also to map out future strategies for making sure everyone in our cities benefits from the positive impact of international newcomers," said Thomas Buell, Jr., Director of Marketing and the Study Pittsburgh Initiative at GlobalPittsburgh.

Building on the success of the initial Global Great Lakes convening last year in Detroit, the 2014 Convening will provide an opportunity for Pittsburgh once again to showcase its economic transformation and revitalization, and to highlight the numerous efforts to attract immigrants to the region and to engage them once they are here.

Although details of the program are still being worked out, the conference is expected to attract dozens of local leaders and nationally-recognized authorities on the topic of immigrant attraction as a tool for economic and community development.

The conference, which will be free and open to the public, will feature presentations and discussion related to the fields of economic development, education, high-tech, healthcare, government and social services.

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto and Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald have agreed to welcome the group and also to participate in panels and discussion groups during the program.

In connection with the open conference, participating organizations in the Global Great Lakes Network will hold a private working session on the day after the open conference to review activities and develop future strategies.

With immigrant-driven economic development at the center of America’s political radar screen, Pittsburgh’s hosting of this event is expected to draw national and international media attention, Buell said. A fund-raising effort to pay for the program is currently under way.

Over the past four years, initiatives to promote immigration as an economic development opportunity have produced Vibrant Pittsburgh, GlobalPittsburgh, Global Detroit, St. Louis Mosaic, Global Cleveland, Welcome Dayton, Global Michigan and Global Lansing, as well as similar economic and community development focused programs emerging in other areas.

In June 2013, the Network held its first convening, attracting nearly 150 people from at least a dozen metros across the Great Lakes Region. The convening consisted of a public conference and a half-day work session to discuss the viability of a Global Great Lakes Network. Since then planning has continued through six work committees, enabling the participating organizations to continue communicating about the effectiveness of their work and discuss the best approaches to the challenges that lie ahead.

The Global Great Lakes Network’s mission is to engage in activities that strengthen the work, maximize the impact, and sustain the efforts of individual local initiatives across the region that welcome, retain, and empower immigrant communities as valued contributors to local economic development initiatives.

Participants in the Global Great Lakes Network seek to make their regions more appealing to immigrants by improving the quality of life and economic opportunities that exist in the region for immigrants as a tool to economic growth.

Immigrant communities, when welcomed in their new home, can generate greater economic growth, job creation, and prosperity for an entire city or region. The Global Great Lakes Network comprises regional economic development initiatives working to tap into the opportunities created by immigrants.

The Network embraces the following core values:

1. Immigrant communities are assets to be nurtured and grown as a means of producing economic opportunity for the entire region.

2. Welcoming immigrants into the economic and social fabric of a region helps to make that region more economically competitive and more attractive socially.

3. Regional economic development initiatives can 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.

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