Global Detroit Study

The findings of the Global Detroit Study illuminated the unexplored potential of southeast Michigan’s immigrant communities and served as a basis for launching the Global Detroit initiative. Research uncovered a broad range of evidence about the contributions that immigrants make to the region’s growing high-tech sector, entrepreneurship, talent needs, diversity, and reinvestment in Detroit and urban neighborhoods, as well as the importance of immigration to the long-term labor needs in a rapidly aging state with stagnant economic growth.

The Global Detroit Study was guided by an Advisory Board of 35 business, new economy, philanthropic, academic, ethnic chamber, labor, and community leaders. The Study was housed at the Detroit Regional Chamber of Commerce and sought to distinguish itself based upon its economic development focus.

In the end, the Global Detroit Study identified 45 potential program initiatives to help transform the regional economy into a robust, high-growth economy characterized by job creation and growing prosperity shared by a broad range of families. The Advisory Board narrowed these ideas into 11 key initiatives.

Collectively, the 11 strategies are aligned around 4 strategic outcomes:

  1. Making the region welcoming to the international community and immigrants.
  2. Retaining international talent in the region.
  3. Attracting international investment and business that create jobs.
  4. Cultivating immigrant and ethnic revitalization of neighborhoods.

Since the Study’s release in June 2010, Global Detroit has been actively working with a variety of regional stakeholders to launch specific initiatives to execute the Study’s recommendations. To date, more than $7 million of corporate, government, philanthropic, and individual funds have been invested in these efforts.

  1. Developing a Welcoming Campaign for Michigan – In 2010, Welcoming Michigan became the 13th state/local affiliate of Welcoming America, a national, grassroots-driven collaborative to create a welcoming atmosphere–community by community–in which immigrants are more likely to integrate into the social fabric of their adopted hometowns. Welcoming Michigan is a program of the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center that was recognized in 2013 by the White House as one of ten Champions of Change for Immigrant Integration for its work in the Chadsey-Condon neighborhood in Detroit, Hamtramck, Sterling Heights and Van Buren County in west Michigan. Through Welcoming Michigan’s advocacy Detroit, East Lansing, Hamtramck, Sterling Heights and Macomb County have declared themselves as Welcoming Cities and Counties–making Michigan the state with more welcoming communities than any other.
  2. Attract and Retain International Students from Michigan Colleges and Universities – In 2011, Global Detroit worked with 7 Michigan universities, the University Research Corridor, the Detroit Regional Chamber, Ann Arbor SPARK, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, and others to launch the Michigan Global Talent Retention Initiative, the nation’s first international student retention program. GTRI now operates on 31 Michigan college campuses and has over 60 Global Opportunity (GO) employers to help connect Michigan’s 28,000 international students (over 60 percent of whom are STEM majors) with unmet talent needs of Michigan companies.
  3. Support and Enhance a Welcome Mat of Immigration Services – Working with ACCESS and the International Institute of Metropolitan Detroit, Global Detroit helped assemble the first online searchable database cataloguing the region’s nonprofit integration service providers (ESL programs, citizenship courses, immigration legal services, etc.) and arts/cultural organizations. In addition to the database, Welcome Mat Detroit fosters collaboration between these providers so that agencies can share services and make referral when appropriate. A fuller knowledge of these services identifies gaps in essential services and creates opportunities for providers to fill them in cooperation with each other.
  4. Develop and Implement Neighborhood Revitalization Strategies that Capitalize on Immigration and Immigrant Communities – Global Detroit continues to innovate programming that helps Detroit neighborhoods revitalize themselves by tapping into new immigrant communities, while benefiting incumbent talent. Most notably, Global Detroit helped build ProsperUS Detroit, an entrepreneurship training and development program focusing solely on the untapped entrepreneurial talent in low-income, minority and immigrant neighborhoods. To date, ProsperUS Detroit has trained over 200 Detroit residents in basic business planning and is on pace to train some 200 additional residents per year. It also provides micro-loans, ongoing technical assistance to business owners and neighborhood capacity building.
  5. Create a Regional Cultural Ambassadors Program – The Global Detroit Cultural Ambassadors program seeks to better connect and welcoming immigrants, international students, foreign visitors, international investors, and the region’s international communities. Modeled in part on the Ann Arbor SPARK Cultural Ambassadors program launched by then-citizen Rick Snyder, the program consists of a professional connector program, as well as a volunteer program that helps regional economic development efforts and nonprofit services find professional volunteers.
  6. Connect Immigrant and Ethnic Communities with Regional Leadership – Global Detroit has worked with several regional leadership training programs to both encourage more immigrant and ethnic community leaders to apply to participate in these programs, as well as presenting the Global Detroit case for immigrant economic development in the region. Partners include Leadership Detroit, Leadership Macomb, Leadership Oakland, Leadership Ann Arbor, New Detroit Multicultural Leadership Series, and the Michigan Political Leadership Program.
  7. Support EB-5 Investor Visa Regional Centers in Michigan – Michigan now has nearly a dozen pre-approved EB-5 Investor Visa Regional Centers that enable international investors to obtain legal residency in the U.S. for a $500,000 investment in a U.S. business that produces 10 jobs over a five-year period. Global Detroit has helped connect potential investors to these centers, as well as champion the use of these investment vehicles as low-cost capital to spur the region’s economic growth, as has been done in Dallas, Philadelphia, and other regions.
  8. Work with Canadian Economic Development Officials to Recruit Global Firms whose Growth and Expansion Is Hindered by Restrictive U.S. Immigration Laws (Nearshoring) – Global Detroit has partnered with regional economic development partners, as well as with our friends in Windsor, Canada to develop an analysis of a regional nearshoring initiative that would aggressively recruit firms that want to expand operations in the U.S., but who are restrained by our immigration caps on skilled international workers. Detroit-Windsor can become the leading “nearshoring” base for the new economy. Not other U.S. region is as close, as large, or possesses as much binational business acumen developed over years of cooperative work on automotive manufacturing and other industries.
  9. Create a Detroit Mayor’s Office of Global Affairs – At the time of the Global Detroit study in 2010, Detroit would have become one of the first cities in the nation with a specific office and staff in City Hall to send the signal to immigrant and ethnic communities, foreign companies, and the world, that Detroit welcomes them. Today, Detroit could join the ranks of a dozen-leading U.S. cities to establish such an office to serve as an ambassador to existing immigrant and ethnic communities, insure access to city services, and greet international businesses, foreign consulates and dignitaries, and international investors. Global Detroit has been working with Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan to launch such an office. Global Detroit also has been an active member of the Detroit City Council Immigration Task Force, where Steve Tobocman co-chairs the Economic Development Committee.
  10. Make Detroit an Attractive Second Landing Destination for Immigrants – Nearly one-third of Michigan’s immigrants have moved here from another U.S. region, rather than directly from abroad. Metro Detroit offers a diverse region with a large array of international communities, one of the fastest growing IT sectors in the nation, and a region with more engineers per capita than any other, great research universities, and growing healthcare, defense, and automotive design sectors. The region has particular appeal to immigrant groups in traditional immigrant gateway cities of New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, etc. Housing and commercial retail space is tremendously inexpensive, especially in Detroit. Furthermore, the central city has a number of significantly under-retailed neighborhoods, suggesting there is ample opportunity for new retailers.
  11. Institutionalize the Global Detroit Initiative – The Global Detroit strategies are interdependent. Metro Detroit cannot become a successful global region, benefitting from international talent and energy, by simply employing one or two strategies. “Institutionalizing” the effort via a coordinating Global Detroit organization helps to insure that a committed, broad-based group of advocates is continuously working to develop resources, monitoring regional progress, launching additional initiatives, advocating for mid-course improvement, and ensuring that the efforts are sustained over time. Finally, it is critical that these efforts are seen as “in addition to,” rather than “instead of” and are designed to benefit incumbent communities, as well as welcoming newcomers.

Global Detroit Study Links