July 18 was a transformational step for Global Detroit, southeast Michigan, and our state.  Nearly 500 business, nonprofit, ethnic, immigrant, media, philanthropic, and government leaders joined together at the New Michigan Media conference at Wayne State University on “Immigration and Michigan’s Economic Future.”  We were fortunate to hear from Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg, Compuware’s Peter Karmanos, Detroit City Councilman Ken Cockrel, Jr. and others who all reiterated that, “Immigrants don’t take jobs.  They are job makers.”

The conference was well covered in the national and local media, including print, radio, and television.
While there are many metrics of success to point to (and some areas upon which we can build), I want to draw your attention to one.  While there were many great columns that came after the conference (including Stephen Henderson’s column in the Detroit Free Press), the Detroit News, our state’s largest conservative-leaning newspaper, not only editorialized about the contributions of immigrants (no surprise, as they have been doing this for some time) and the conference, but took the additional step of joining Governor Snyder and editorializing against legislative efforts, modeled upon Arizona laws, to make the state more unwelcoming.

In short, last week’s conference puts Detroit and Michigan at the forefront of becoming the most welcoming city and state in America.  Global Detroit and Global Michigan (and the business and political support for them expressed at the conference) welcome the international community, welcome new immigrants, welcome new residents, welcome foreign directing investment, welcome entrepreneurship, welcome diversity, and welcome all the other strengths that the immigrant and international community bring to propel our region’s and state’s economic growth and job creation.

The New Economy Initiative for Southeast Michigan’s leadership in providing seed funding for the Global Detroit study, as well as its continued operation, has been at the core of this growing movement.  July’s conference was a public unveiling of sorts of the findings of the study and the team being assembled to move our region forward.