Grand Rapids Chamber, Global Detroit partner on new American inclusivity

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Omar Cuevas. Courtesy Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce

The Grand Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce is collaborating with Global Detroit to build a more welcoming, higher-growth West Michigan economy through better inclusion of new Americans.

The Grand Rapids Chamber said Wednesday, Oct. 13, it partnered with Global Detroit to advance immigrant economic development and inclusion policies in Grand Rapids, Kent County and West Michigan. Through the partnership, the organizations said they will “craft policies and programs to build a more inclusive economy and spark growth, revitalization, and sustained prosperity in the region and across our state.”

Among the new programs will be efforts to assist new Americans in maximizing and leveraging their skill sets while promoting best practices in the private sector, the chamber said. The goal is to assist West Michigan employers in hiring and retaining this talent base to fill unmet talent needs. In addition to assisting foreign-educated and -trained workers in Kent County, the partnership will assist international students graduating from Michigan colleges and universities to connect with employers unable to fill critical talent needs.

The partners said they expect to be able to connect more than 50 employers and 250 new Americans with direct assistance within the first year.

The Grand Rapids Chamber also has been a core partner and leader of similar efforts through developing Kent County’s Gateways for Growth plan.

“With talent being a top-of-mind issue for our business community, and seeing more immigrant and refugees calling West Michigan home, partnering with Global Detroit makes so much sense,” said Omar Cuevas, vice president of sales and marketing at the Grand Rapids Chamber. “Last year, our community unveiled the Kent County Welcome Plan for New Americans and Refugees. This partnership is only one of the steps we are taking to creating a more inclusive economy and connecting employers to (overlooked) talent pools.”

Global Detroit is a regional economic and community development organization. With a focus on immigrants and global talent, the organization is widely viewed as a national leader in the emerging field of immigrant economic development and inclusion.

Steve Tobocman. Courtesy Global Detroit

“The partnership between the Grand Rapids Chamber and Global Detroit will leverage each organization’s respective strengths,” said Steve Tobocman, executive director of Global Detroit. “We’re excited to utilize the chamber’s existing business and community relationships and Global Detroit’s technical expertise to implement best practices in building a more inclusive economy.

“Together, the Grand Rapids Chamber and Global Detroit were two of the key movers in creating the Michigan Business Compact on Immigration, as well as serving as key architects to drafting an immigrant inclusion strategy to Gov. Whitmer’s Sixty by 30 workforce development initiative. We look forward to building upon these early successes to roll our sleeves up with local programs to build a more inclusive and high-growth economy in the Grand Rapids region.”

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