It was a pleasure and a thrill to host a panel discussion on immigration last week featuring two Global Cleveland board members, Radhika Reddy, Founder and Partner of Ariel Ventures, LLC and Ariel International Center and Dr. Hiroyuki Fujita, Founder, President and Chief Executive Officer of Quality Electrodynamics (QED) as well as auto dealership mogul, Bernie Moreno, president of Bernie Moreno Companies, and Harvard professor, Carlos Diaz Rosillo. Global Cleveland partnered with a Partnership for a New American Economy (PNAE), a national organization founded by Rupert Murdoch and Michael Bloomberg with a similar mission, which is to demonstrate the impact immigration has had, and will have in America.

Picture left to right: Presider: Doug Bugie, President, Antal International Network; Hiroyuki Fujita, PhD, Founder, Quality Electrodynamics; Carlos E. Diaz Rosillo, PhD, Lecturer on Government, Harvard University; Bernie Moreno, President, Bernie Moreno Companies; Radhika Reddy, Partner, Areil Ventures, LLC; Rob Frost, Chairman of the Cuyahoga County Republican Party; Joe Cimperman, President, Global Cleveland.

Most would say the founders of PNAE would make for very strange political bedfellows. However, like the founders of Global Cleveland, they and understand immigration both as a vision and in practical reality. This event went way beyond politics or party affiliation. It was very uplifting to see Global Cleveland, Rob Frost , Chairman of the Cuyahoga County Republican Party and PNAE come together to fight the urges of isolationism and outright xenophobia in a strong, pragmatic way.

I can tell you from experience employees working for my company in no less than 7 countries have recently been horribly shaken by the recent attacks by terrorists. Keeping leaders of businesses thinking positively and focused on the future is extremely difficult when the people close to them, and around the world, are angry, hurt and confused by terrorist acts. This makes the work we do through and with Global Cleveland hugely important and relevant.

We all have heard much talk not only from the USA , but with the BREXIT and around the world where people at all levels of society and politics want to regain some sort of control by striking back, closing boarders, building walls and feeding rising anti-immigration rhetoric. It is for this reason that the work we do at Global Cleveland is not only strategic but pragmatic and yes, very American in terms of the core values which built our great nation, right from the beginning.

There was a real sense of carpe diem when Joe Cimperman, really responding quickly, especially given the major Ambassadors happening the same day, the small but mighty Global Cleveland Team, Republican Party leader Rob Frost, showing centrism when under pressure from the nominee’s group and Jeremy Robbins, national leader of PNAE came together so quickly to orchestrate this event. The speakers brought to life the incredible stories and the impact of these immigrants-then-citizens on our region.

Dr. Hiroyuki Fujita, Radhika Reddy and Bernie Moreno each faced innumerable challenges along their pathway to success yet they are the epitome of humility combined with vision and the desire to achieve. They won’t, but I will urge you to read up on them. We have such an amazing group of people on the Global Cleveland board in general!

Forty percent of Fortune 500 corporations have been founded by immigrants or their children. One-third of all start-ups are done by immigrants. Immigrants create jobs and contribute to the economy in outsized proportion to their numbers. As Richey Piiparinen’s research, advanced through his work at The Center for Population Dynamics at the Maxine Goodman Levin School of Urban Affairs at Cleveland State University, has clearly documented immigrants are transforming Cleveland. Our region now ranks within top six metro areas for numbers of individuals with advanced degrees. Like many legacy cities Cleveland has lost population and those who remain are aging leaving thousands of unfilled jobs. Our region’s Economic growth equation requires a demographic solution. Cleveland needs more immigrants.

These kinds of events inspire each of us to remain motivated and confident of Global Cleveland’s mission to attract, welcome and connect international newcomers to social and economic opportunities in Cleveland and Cuyahoga County.. We have to keep positive immigration as part of our collective society and one great way is to remind people Of their contributions–to create a collective memory— that has built America and contribute to its greatness.

During his lifetime, the late Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel would not let the world forget the Holocaust He spoke of creating a public memory. I chose to finish our panel discussion on immigration paraphrasing the words of Mr. Wiesel: Memory creates and supports society and even binds together civilization itself. In its own way, Global Cleveland creates ‘current and future memories’, what will become immigration examples of greatness, of contribution at all levels in what binds America together from whatever station in life as we seek–and I’m sure Global Cleveland will succeed–to attract, welcome and connect immigrants.


Written By: Doug Bugie, Global Cleveland Board Member