Newscasters, celebrities and bloggers have all sorts of advice to share with students and graduates these days.  On behalf of Global Cleveland, I merely offer my congratulations to the newest crop of college graduates and offer best wishes for a promising future.  Our thoughts also turn to the many international students who are graduating from Ohio institutions, with the hope that the career of their dreams will come to fruition, here, in Northeast Ohio. Cleveland welcomes your expertise and is eager for you to become part of our City’s creative mix of talent and cultures. 

Last month, Global Cleveland staff members were invited to celebrate International Day along with a number of Cleveland’s most recent newcomers – the students attending Thomas Jefferson International Newcomers Academy. 

 Located on Cleveland’s west side, Thomas Jefferson is one of the Cleveland Metropolitan School District’s premier learning centers. This preK-12 school serves an immigrant and refugee population of five hundred and forty students, from approximately twenty-five countries, who speak seventeen different languages. The school offers a small classroom environment with individual attention, bilingual instruction and English language immersion.  With such global diversity, there is a constant buzz of multicultural activity produced by students who share their uniqueness bound by the common threads of hope and promise.

Northeast Ohio’s economic growth and prosperity depend on having a workforce that is rich with diverse and high skilled talent. In 2014, the Cleveland Foundation released a report, which at the time, stated that there were 23,000 open jobs in our region, yet only 7,000 U.S. born graduates with the qualifications to fill them. Currently, about 5,000 international students attend Northeast Ohio colleges and universities. Many of them are here to pursue advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering or mathematics, fields that are in high demand by area employers, yet attract fewer American students. Upon graduation, these international students become an available pool of highly skilled talent. Unfortunately, instead of providing them an opportunity to remain in the region by filling one of the thousands of open jobs in the engineering, computer and information technology, or healthcare sectors, most of these qualified candidates will leave Northeast Ohio. As a result, the region loses a valuable source of knowledge and expertise and area employers are left with unfilled jobs in key sectors of our economy.

The month of June is national Immigrant Heritage Month.  I encourage you to visit Global Cleveland’s website to read inspirational stories of immigrants who have settled in Northeast Ohio; and, to participate in a few of the fun activities that we are planning throughout the month.

Lastly, I want to thank the Board of Directors for their confidence in me by asking me to serve as Global Cleveland’s interim director.  It is exciting to work with Global Cleveland’s engaged staff and community partners as, together, we explore ways to attract and engage newcomers from around the globe who are eager to contribute their ideas, energy and expertise to help strengthen our regional economy and create a prosperous future for us all.