Network Map

Congratulations to all of those who participated in, spoke at, donated to, attended, and supported the Global Great Lakes Network’s Second Convening this past June 11-13 in Pittsburgh. With well over 200 attendees, speeches by Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, Allegheny County Chief Executive Rich Fitzgerald, iGate’s Sunil Wadhwani, and American Immigration Council’s Ben Johnson the event was inspiring and provided great examples of best practices on economic development programs focusing on immigrants in the Rust Belt and across the country.

If you didn’t get a chance to attend or wanted to read about how the Convening was viewed by Pittsburgh media, you can read several media stories on the Convening here. In addition to tackling the issue of African-American and immigrant issues, the Convening looked at Nashville’s immigrant welcoming success, micro-enterprise, international students, skilled immigrant integration, municipal services, ethnic media, federal immigration reform, and how to start successful local immigrant economic development initiatives.

Participant surveys from the Convening reveal that 93% agree that developing the Global Great Lakes Network will be useful to their work; 89% will attend a similar Convening in the future; 82% know other people who would be interesting in attending a future Convening; and 82% are interested in online content similar to the content provided at the Convening.

The second day of the Convening was a working session for local organizations to develop a Network work plan, steering committee, geographic footprint, and name. The group voted to define the region as 10 states (MN, WI, IL, IA, MO, IN, OH, MI, PA, and NY—see map above) and to allow local efforts outside the footprint who meet certain to-be-finalized characteristics (declining population, smaller immigrant population than national average, sluggish economic recovery, etc.) to participate in the Network. The group also voted to have Welcoming America serve as the organizational home for the Network, while having Welcoming America contract with Global Detroit and other outside groups for staffing.

Again, a huge round of thanks to Vibrant Pittsburgh, GlobalPittsburgh, Global Detroit, and Welcoming America for their work in pulling the Convening together and to our sponsors—Knight Foundation, Benedum Foundation, Richard King Mellon Foundation, Pittsburgh Foundation,, Quicken Loans, Cohen & Grigsby, Community College of Allegheny County, Fragomen, and the Dignity & Respect Campaign of Greater Pittsburgh.



All interested parties are invited to attend the second convening of the Global Great Lakes Network, which will be held June 12, 2014 in Pittsburgh. This important event will feature the sharing ideas and best practices that promote immigrant attraction as an economic development opportunity.  We will continue to build on our work over the past year and grow our network, and we look forward to your participation! There is no cost to attend, but registration is required.

The day-long public conference will kick-off with remarks from Allegheny County Chief Executive Rich Fitzgerald and Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto. The main themes of the event will be attracting and retaining immigrants to the region to enhance opportunities for overall economic growth, and also on ways to connect those newcomers with the local population, especially underserved communities.

A screening of the film Transfusion, about connecting immigrant and African-American communities in Columbus, Ohio, will take place in the evening, to which the public is also invited. See the registration form for details. A working session for Global Great Lakes Network participants will be held in Friday, June 13.

For a complete agenda of the June 12 event, including speakers, CLICK HERE


*Currently space is limited to 220 participants and may be allocated on a first come, first serve basis.

Travel and lodging information can be found here.  Check back for updates.

We look forward to your attendance!

Subscribe to our mailing list.

ImageThe second annual convening of the Global Great Lakes Network will be held in Pittsburgh, PA, June 12-13, 2014, bringing together representatives of cities and organizations in the upper midwestern region working on immigrant-related economic development initiatives.

The highlight of the Pittsburgh Global Great Lakes convening will be a day-long public conference on June 12 featuring presentations by regional and national leaders in the fields of economic development, education, high-tech, healthcare, government and social services to share their success stories and encourage discussion of next steps. A working session of Global Great Lakes Network participants will be held on June 13. The event will be hosted locally by Vibrant Pittsburgh and GlobalPittsburgh, with coordination assistance from Global Detroit.

With immigrant-driven economic development at the center of America’s political radar screen,  this event is sure to draw national and international media attention, which will be actively pursued with clear, consistent messaging that will focus attention on positive developments in the region’s cities, as well as on the challenges still surrounding the issue of immigrant attraction and retention.

Watch this space for additional details and registration information.


One of our Global Great Lakes Initial Convening participants, Global Lansing, is a network of people who care about making the city of Lansing a welcoming community to international people.

The Global Lansing Initiative is the collaborative effort of the groups Lansing Economic Area Partnership (LEAP),  Prima Civitas Foundation, Greater Lansing Convention and Visitors Bureau, Michigan State University, DTN Management, Lansing Community College, Meridian Township, City of East Lansing, City of Lansing, Lansing Regional Sister Cities Commission and others, to utilize the valuable international resources and talent available in the greater Lansing area including international students, businesses and international relationships.

Check out Global Lansing‘s new video!

“By going global, and by being internationally friendly, I think we will open up opportunities that have previously been blind to us.”


“Our greatest asset is this international student population – we have a tremendous opportunity to leverage these individuals who come here for education, and get them to stay and infuse their talent into our current talent base.”

Learn more about Global Lansing here.

Congratulations to Suhas Kulkarni, the director of the Louisville Office of Globalization.  His personal story exemplifies the entrepreneurial spirit guiding the Global Great Lakes Network.  It is inspiring to know that someone as entrepreneurial as he would want to help Louisville tap into the entrepreneurial strengths of other immigrants in the area.

The story: “Man of the World” Business First of Louisville January 17, 2014

Steve and Betsy

On Wednesday, January 15, two of the core participants at the Global Great Lakes Network convening were featured panelists at a Capitol Hill briefing organized by the American Immigration Council and Immigration Policy Center on Revitalization in the Heartland:  Welcoming Immigrant Entrepreneurs for Economic Development.  The event was moderated by AIC Director Ben Johnson and included Betsy Cohen from the St. Louis Mosaic Project, Steve Tobocman from Global Detroit, and Himar Hernandez from the Iowa State University Extension & Outreach Office.

About 50 people attended to hear how the nation’s heartland was moving forward at recognizing immigration as an economic stimulant that provides jobs and prosperity to local communities–including the non-immigrants in those communities.  Each panelist explained how their organizations and supporters came to this realization and decided to move forward and embrace immigration as an opportunity for our local communities.

While it remains unclear if the Congress will move pieces of the Senate immigration reform legislation, pass a comprehensive bill, or do nothing on the issue in 2014, we look forward to watching how St. Louis Mosaic, Global Detroit, Iowa State University’s Extension Office and the other visionary programs on-the-ground in the Midwest will produce groundbreaking results through their innovative efforts welcoming immigrant talent and investment, integrating immigrants into our local economies, and reaping the benefits in terms of regional growth, prosperity, and improved quality of life.

The Global Great Lakes Network programs are moving our region and nation forward.  Thanks to Ben Johnson and the excellent paper prepared by Paul McDaniel about Detroit, St. Louis, and Iowa.  A great day and event.

Since the great success of the first convening of a Global Great Lakes Network in Detroit this past June, work to build a network has continued. Six working committees are meeting to develop a potential work plan for the Network to pursue to strengthen the work and impact of local efforts across the Great Lakes region.

The committees are focusing on:

1. Peer-to-Peer Learning

2. Conference and Events

3. Joint Fundraising

4. Joint Technology, Assets, and Resources

5. Joint Advocacy and Programs

6. Media, Social Media, and Communications

Many of the participants from the first convening are attending the Fifth Annual National Immigration Integration Conference in Miami this November 17-19. The Global Great Lakes Network will be gathering for some networking and to socialize on Monday, November 18th at 5:00-6:30 p.m. at The Gallery bar at the Miami Downtown Hilton.

We are starting to plan for a Second Convening of the Global Great Lakes Network in the Spring of 2014. Interested partners, participants, and sponsors should contact us at


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.