Global Great Lakes Network collaborates at National Immigrant Integration Conference in Miami

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By Steve Tobocman

From November 17-19 several of the attendees from the Global Great Lakes Network first convening in Detroit (held last June) found themselves in the sunny waters of downtown Miami, Florida for the sixth annual National Immigration Integration Conference.  With representatives of immigrant economic development programs in Dayton, Detroit, Macomb County, St. Louis, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Toledo, not to mention new friends from Buffalo and Louisville, we managed to carve out time in what can only be called an overwhelming conference schedule (meetings from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.?) to mix and mingle.

The Global Great Lakes Network had an informal cocktail hour in the hotel bar that attracted nearly 20 folks.  Our group was joined by representatives of the JM Kaplan Fund, Welcoming America, Upwardly Global, World Education Services, as well as the Migration Policy Institute.  Despite the declared social nature of the get-together, participants could not stop from talking shop, discussing a potential name change to the network, the progress of the six working committees for the Global Great Lakes Network, and the potential for a second convening.

Miami was an opportunity to talk about our regional network to others around the nation.  Increasingly, there seems to be a movement of metro areas who are viewing immigration as an economic development opportunity and strategy; who are moving forward with their own initiatives; and who are eager to network with other programs in other cities to develop best practices, learn strategies, and compare notes.  The NIIC conference in Miami had several panels to learn more about Welcoming America’s Welcoming Cities program and to discuss a Global Great Lakes Network second convening with funders and other participants.

We expect some exciting announcements about a second convening for spring 2014 soon!

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