Global Cleveland has always been about welcoming.  A big part of our mission is to foster a sense of welcoming and a culture of equal opportunity regardless of age ethnicity or longevity in Greater Cleveland.  We welcome the foreign-born to our region whether they are immigrants, migrants, international students, or refugees.  My grandparents emigrated from Poland to Cleveland and at that time our city was a hub of immigrants and nearing the 1 million population mark.  There were plenty of people to welcome them—mostly other Poles who also were looking for a new life in Amerika!   


 The challenge in welcoming newcomers is getting the citizenry in our community to put out their hand of welcome.  That is why we need the citizens of Cleveland to become part of the welcoming movement—to help create a friendly and open environment for the newcomers.   Visitors often say that Clevelanders are the friendliest people they know. 

I was recently impressed with a report from the Institute for Immigration Research at George Mason University for the Cleveland Metro Area.  Our region is home to approximately 71,000 foreign born workers which account for 6.3% of the labor force.   These workers are employed in five major sectors: Education, Health, Social Services; Manufacturing; Professional, Scientific, Administration; Arts, Entertainment Accommodations, Food Services; and, Retail Trade.   A good number of the foreign-born workers are of prime working age, which means they are in the 25-44 year old category indicating that the local economy relies on the foreign-born population to bolster the labor-force.  The last statistic is in regard to English proficiency of local foreign-born populations.  An overwhelming 84.5% of them have strong English skills with only 12% with poor language skills and only 4% with no English skills.  So when you encounter someone from another land here in Cleveland, know that their English language skills are more than likely impressive.

As Global Cleveland is about welcoming, I want to add a personal note of thanks for the wonderful welcome I’ve had at Global Cleveland since I arrived in mid-November 2014.  I am now winding down my role as the Interim Director and I thank the Board of Directors, the wonderful staff, volunteers and partners for their welcoming nature and kindness during my time here.  I look forward to hearing about how Joe Cimperman will bring a new zest and vitality to Global Cleveland.  I wholeheartedly support him and his efforts—along with the hardworking staff—to welcome the newcomers to Northeast Ohio.  In mid-March I begin a new position at Ursuline College as its new Vice President for Institutional Advancement.  

I end this monthly article with a quote I recall from the President’s Commission on Immigration that was published in 1953.  I hope all readers and Global Cleveland supporters will embrace the concept behind it:  The richest regions are those with the highest proportion of immigration.   

In other words, welcome newcomers and our region will thrive.