By Sierra Allen
According to The American Immigration Council, immigrants contribute to the country’s economic growth and even helps increase the economic status of individual states.
By filling jobs others deny and creating jobs that don’t exist, immigrants in Ohio are boosting the state’s economic growth and financial resilience with the help of Global Cleveland.
What started almost eight years ago has now grown into a hub for immigrants and allies. Global Cleveland is a nonprofit organization that connects international individuals with social and economic opportunities in Cleveland and Cuyahoga County.
“We exist to welcome, attract and retain international newcomers for economic prosperity in Northeastern Ohio, said Joe Cimperman, president of Global Cleveland. ”I mean, it’s pretty straight forward. We believe the data that immigrants add to the financial well-being of the community. We believe the data that immigrants create jobs, that they add to the cultural diversity and dynamics of a city or region. And so we basically spend every single day trying to figure out how to make people who are newcomers here feel more welcomed, welcome new newcomers who aren’t here yet, keep the ones that we have and do whatever we can to plug them in.”
Born to a Slovenian mother and into a family where English was the second language, Joe Cimperman has used his personal experience as a motivating force for the work he’s accomplished as president of Global Cleveland for the past two years.
Over the years, Ohio has made a conscious effort to connect immigrants and opportunities, but Cimperman says Global Cleveland specifically links multiple organizations to make a greater impact. According to him, Cincinnati and Columbus created offices that were more economic and business development based. Akron doubled down and studied how they could be more welcoming to refugees, but Global Cleveland started as its stand-alone non-profit that allowed Cleveland to work with everyone.
Cleveland is home to people from over 100 countries. Part of what makes Ohio a target location are the jobs and services it offers, which not only helps Ohio grow economically, but by population as well.
“We had such industries that welcomed immigrants, whether it was steal or coal or manufacturing or deport, and people found a life here,” Cimperman said. “We currently have people from 112 different countries living in the city of Cleveland, so we do whatever we can to embrace them, but also to increase the numbers because as you know, cities across the country are experiencing population loss and that’s not good for the people who are born here that’s not good for the people who are coming here. So we want to make sure we do whatever we can to increase our numbers and expand our welcome.”
The truth is, immigrants must build their own foundation, which gives them the drive to take the risks necessary to become successful.
“There’s a reason why so much of our economics were built by newcomers because they took risks and were willing to take less for them and do what they had to do to build that kind of capital,” Cimperman said. “But, I would also make the argument that it makes us better as a people.It’s pretty clear that homogeneity as a concept and as a social construct is a failure. There’s nothing wrong about celebrating your cultural heritage, but in many ways, you can celebrate it even more when you have people from other cultures and races and nations of origin. Our greatest moments are when we are the most welcoming.“