Detroit Ranked in Top Ten as Welcoming for Immigrants

Last week, during national Welcoming Week, Global Detroit paused to celebrate its eighth year of programming, to honor some deserving immigrant entrepreneurs and champions, and to celebrate Detroit’s Top Ten status in the first-ever New American Economy Cities Index ranking America’s 100 largest cities for their integration policies and the socioeconomic success of immigrant and refugee residents. The New American Economy is a bipartisan research and advocacy organization fighting for immigration policies that help grow our economy and create jobs for all Americans. Started by New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, its members include mayors and CEOs of some of America’s biggest companies.

   “This ranking affirms a decade of hard work and planning that have placed Detroit among America’s most welcoming cities. Building an inclusive city is a critical component of revitalizing and sustaining vibrant neighborhoods that attract and retain diverse residents,” said Global Detroit Director Steve Tobocman, who authored the original 2010 Global Detroit study which provided a blueprint for many of the initiatives contributing to Detroit’s high ranking. “Through a lot of collaboration and true team effort, Detroit and Southeast Michigan have become national leaders in building an inclusive economy that mobilizes our immigrant potential—bellwether traits of prosperous and vibrant economies, cities, and regions across the world.”


The NAE Cities Index rankings examines 31 different policies and practices, as well as 20 socioeconomic outcomes, to assess America’s 100 largest cities on their work and results in integrating immigrants and refugees. Detroit’s strong ranking is based upon (1) integration and welcoming policies, programs, and initiatives; and (2) the ease by which immigrants and refugees have been able to participate in the workforce, entrepreneurship, and homeownership programs and opportunities.

Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan noted that, “Collaboration between our office, the Detroit City Council, nonprofit organizations like Global Detroit, Welcoming Michigan, and the International Institute of Metro Detroit, among others, and with residents and the business community has enabled Detroit to rapidly develop and implement important and meaningful policies and programs that welcome immigrants and refugees, facilitated population growth, and made us a national leader in integration policies. The proof is evident in today’s Top Ten ranking.  And while we are excited for today’s distinction among the nation’s most welcoming cities, we are committed to continuing this progress to improve city services and policies to become even more welcoming.”

Several public policies contributing to Detroit’s ranking were adopted and implemented since Mayor Duggan began as Mayor and Detroit City Council Member Raquel Castañeda-López launched the Detroit City Council Immigration Task Force. Included in these programs are:

  • Detroit municipal ID card
  • Revised language access plan with appropriate funding
  • City Council resolutions and mayoral proclamations declaring the city as welcoming; and
  • Detroit’s local refugee resettlement plan.

Efforts by Governor Rick Snyder’s Michigan Office for New Americans to assist professional immigrants and refugees in attaining their credentials and connecting with unmet talent demands in the private sector—what is known as the Michigan International Talent Solutions (MITS) program—also contributed to the ranking. A skilled immigrant integration initiative, as well as the creation of a Detroit Mayor’s Office for Immigrant Affairs, were among the 11 strategies originally called for in the initial Global Detroit study and plan.

Since the Global Detroit study and plan—an 18-month engagement and planning process funded by the New Economy Initiative, the Detroit Regional Chamber, and the Skillman Foundation—was released in 2010, Global Detroit has worked with a wide array of public, nonprofit, and private sector partners to build the programs, policies, and initiatives that have positioned Detroit as a national leader in the emerging field of inclusive economic development. Other programs that helped contribute to Detroit’s high ranking include:

  • Bilingual entrepreneurship programs like ProsperUS Detroit, ACCESS  Growth, TechTown SWOT City, SCORE, and bilingual staff at the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation to serve neighborhood-based businesses, as well as Global Detroit’s own efforts to connect immigrant entrepreneurs to these and other programs, like NEIdeas and Motor City Match
  • Neighborhood integration efforts like Global Detroit’s Opportunity Neighborhoods program in Banglatown and Southwest Detroit, as well as Welcoming Michigan’s Welcoming Chadsey-Condon and ACCESS’ JIRAN efforts in Cody-Rouge
  • Inclusive workforce development programs like those of the International Institute of Metropolitan Detroit

In short, the ranking symbolizes the tremendous progress we have made to build a more inclusive and welcoming city. Capitalizing on the momentum created since 2010, Global Detroit looks forward to working with the vast array of partners to continue building an inclusive economy that creates opportunities for both newcomers and longstanding Detroiters, and builds bridges between them.. Our mission is to spread access to the American Dream in a way that will nurture vibrant neighborhoods that make Detroit residents want to invest, raise a family, and retire here.

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