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Mayor Peduto launches initiative to bolster immigration

Last week, Mayor William Peduto launched Welcoming Pittsburgh, an effort to improve quality of life and economic prosperity for immigrants and native-born residents alike.
 
Peduto announced the program Wed., May 28, with more than 100 community leaders in attendance at the Kingsley Association in Larimer. The initiative is part of Welcoming America, a national and grassroots-driven collaborative that promotes mutual respect and cooperation between foreign-born and U.S.-born Americans.

The ceremony included community leaders who spoke to their own immigrant stories and performances by Balafon West African Dance Ensemble and local, Latin American music group Bésame.

Through Welcoming Pittsburgh, the city will support efforts such as resettling refugees eager to build new homes in the city; working with organizations including the Allegheny Conference on Community Development, Global Pittsburgh and Vibrant Pittsburgh to support efforts that keep international students in the city; reviving its Sister Cities program with the help of the World Affairs Council; and supporting job growth of all kinds, from small businesses to manufacturing to high-tech.

“Pittsburgh has long been home to generations of immigrants — it drew my family here and so many others — but there is much more we can do, especially in supporting business opportunities and innovation among all our residents, old and new. While we celebrate our immigrant past, we need to build on a welcoming future,” Peduto says.

Studies show Pittsburgh lags behind most peer cities in net immigration, yet the immigrants it does host are among the highest-educated in the nation. As of early 2013, the city had more than 1,300 Bhutanese, nearly 500 Burmese, almost 200 Iraqi and more than 260 Somali citizens who resettled in Pittsburgh. The landscape is also changing for the region’s Latinos — across the county, there are 24,000 Hispanics, most of which live in the city.

June is Immigrant Heritage Month, and speakers at the Welcoming Pittsburgh event talked about the Global Great Lakes conference coming to the city June 12, and a regional Puerto Rico outreach strategy that includes a concert by El Gran Combo on June 22. Both are free events and open to the public.

“It was our great honor to host Mayor Peduto’s kickoff of Welcoming Pittsburgh,” says CEED Executive Director Rufus Idris. “As an immigrant from Nigeria and someone who works directly with this population, I see firsthand every day the numerous contributions the immigrant community is making in Pittsburgh through innovative startups and new business ventures.”

The city is currently taking applications for those seeking to join a Welcoming Pittsburgh Advisory Council to contribute to the rollout the effort’s implementation plan and set key initiatives. Policies will be shaped with the guidance of this core team. The Council will also be tapped to lead a listening tour to engage community members every step of the way. 

Those interested in joining the Welcoming Pittsburgh Advisory Council may apply at: http://pittsburghpa.gov/personnel/jobs/pittsburgh_advisory_council.  The application will remain open until June 20.
 

Source: Office of Mayor William Peduto
 
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