Happy New Year! A look back at 2018 Milestones

By Alistair Kiyingi

As immigration gridlocks our national government, Global Detroit is looking forward to 2019 with new energy, vision, and commitment around its work making our region an economically vibrant leader in integrating our immigrant potential in an economy that works for everyone. 

Part of our confidence stems from the highlights of this past year and several key milestones:

  • Detroit Ranked in Top Ten as Welcoming to Immigrants by the New American Economy

In September during national Welcoming Week, Detroit earned Top Ten status in the first-ever New American Economy Cities Index ranking of America’s 100 largest cities for their integration policies and the socioeconomic success of immigrant and refugee residents. The ranking reaffirmed a decade of hard work and planning to ensure that Detroit is a welcoming city for immigrants! In 2010, Global Detroit authored the original 2010 Global Detroit study, which provided specific recommendations and a blueprint for the region. The creation and success of those programs and policies in the 2010 study accounted for a significant number of the factors that  contributed to Detroit’s high ranking.


  • Launch of the Global Entrepreneur in Residence (Global EIR)Program.

Through a generous grant from the William Davison Foundation, we launched the Global EIR program in June! Global EIR gives international student graduates and immigrant founders the opportunity to launch their startup business in the U.S., while working in ways that further the educational mission of a U.S. university. Global Detroit also hired Millie Chu as our Director of STEM and Startups to lead the program. As of January 1, 2019, the University of Michigan’s Economic Growth Institute officially launched the first Global EIR program in Michigan in partnership with Global Detroit.

  • Expanding Support to Businesses in Detroit.

Global Detroit had one-on-one conversations with 460 entrepreneurs in five neighborhoods, including Southwest Detroit and Banglatown, about the 2018 NEIdeas $10k challenge, Motor City Match, and other business opportunities. Of those entrepreneurs informed, we provided direct NEIdeas application support to 136 entrepreneurs. Eighty (80) of those applications advanced as semi-finalists and 35 semi-finalists received direct support from our staff. Two of the 2018 NEIdeas winners were other language speakers from Southwest Detroit and three others were businesses connected by Global Detroit in other parts of the city and region.

Stay tuned for blogs featuring the five 2018 NEIdeas winners that Global Detroit assisted. Raquel Garcia, our Director of Housing and Special Projects, continued outreach to entrepreneurs in the skilled trades and construction sector and  partnered with Asesorias Para Negocios Pequenos, a network of Spanish speaking entrepreneurship support providers to host Asesorias: Consultas Para Negocios (Small Business Consultations).

  • Assisting Underserved Detroit Residents to Secure Investment in their Community.

Global Detroit received funding from the  Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) to provide minor home repair and beautification grants to residents to encourage stability in Detroit’s East Davison Village neighborhood. So far six residents received grants for exterior home improvements.

“It was a very great experience. I needed those steps when this came along, it would have been a whole lot of money for me but they took care of it all! Thank you Global Detroit for giving me this opportunity.” -Carolyn Shephard, MSHDA Grant Recipient

  • Continued to Help Companies Fulfill Unmet Talent Needs.

Global Detroit’s Global Talent Retention Initiative (GTRI) partnered with the North American Chinese Society of Automotive Engineers to host a job fair that successfully convened over 250 international students. Students, mostly pursuing graduate degrees in various STEM fields at Michigan colleges and universities, submitted their resumes and networked with 19 local and global companies who were looking to fill more than 150 STEM positions in Southeast Michigan in the fields of engineering, technology, and manufacturing.

Additionally, in response to Governor Snyder’s Marshall Plan for Talent, and an ongoing understanding of the prevailing STEM talent gaps in Southeast Michigan, Global Detroit strengthened its partnership with OpTech, a private staffing firm, to ensure that international students have the knowledge and skills needed to enter Southeast Michigan’s workforce. We provided information sessions to connect international students at Wayne State University and the University of Michigan with OpTech’s resource and placement opportunities.

  • Continued our Champions for Growth Advocacy for Policies that Will Grow our Economy

In September, the Trump Administration proposed a rule to vastly expand the “Public Charge” under U.S. immigration law, threatening the legal residency status of millions of Americans and denying visas to hundreds of thousands more. The proposal would have devastating the nation’s economy, workforce, health care industry, and communities. The impact and importance of this policy couldn’t be overstated, and that’s why we partnered with Welcoming Economies Global Network, New American Economy, and All for All, to organize a national Twitter town hall focused on the economic impacts of the proposed rule change. This may have been the nation’s only educational or media event focused on the economics of this critical policy. The strong and broad participation showed us the need for this type of advocacy work, and additionally we received solid interest from the media with a half-dozen radio appearance and print pieces covering the topic. According to the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, the proposed public charge rule received over 210,000 comments in the Federal Register! It will take months for the Department of Homeland Security to go through the comments and issue a final rule. We are hopeful that the comments on the economic impacts are taken seriously and the proposed rule is severely limited or scrapped altogether. If a final rule is issued, we expect that litigation could delay and or potentially stop the implementation.


2019 will bring opportunities to build on last year’s progress. Watch us as we continue to build an inclusive, and welcoming region. Global Detroit finished 2018 on a high note with grant awards from the New Economy Initiative to continue our work, as well as from the Hudson-Webber Foundation to pursue some groundbreaking research exploring the connection between immigration and neighborhood stabilization. We will be zeroing in on those Detroit neighborhoods that have experienced significant immigration growth. Our findings in this first of its kind research will inform public policy and community development practices  here and across the nation.

Happy New Year and thank you for the continued support!

Make a New Year’s donation here today and join our community that makes building an inclusive region possible.

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