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Global Cleveland Pitches the City to Outsiders, With Eye Toward Foreigners

Thursday, May 1, 2014 at 1:53 PM

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Baiju Shah and Joy Roller, of Global Cleveland, discuss one of their promotional videos. Photo by Joanna Richards

There’s been talk for years about how to counteract “brain drain” and population decline in Cleveland, with suggestions that boosting immigration could be part of the answer. That conversation picks up again tonight with a kickoff event at the convention center for a “talent attraction” campaign. Ideastream’s Joanna Richards reports.

The nonprofit group Global Cleveland is devoted to enticing newcomers. Its campaign aims to do that by highlighting the region’s economic opportunities.

Governor John Kasich, Mayor Frank Jackson, and JobsOhio President John Minor will take part in tonight’s event. There will be international performances, and home-grown prizes like a tour of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s vault.

But how does filling a ballroom with people who already live here help attract newcomers?

“We know that people move for two reasons: friends and family, and jobs. But how they move is word of mouth,” said Joy Roller, Global Cleveland’s president.

So the group wants to get Clevelanders excited about their city – and talking to everyone they know.

Global Cleveland aims to attract anyone, but immigrants are a big part of its plan because of their entrepreneurial energy.

The organization’s website can be translated into scores of languages, and includes links to many community groups. Promotional videos can be translated into Spanish or Chinese.

A new Cleveland State University study suggests efforts like this have their heart in the right place. Even though Cleveland’s population is still declining, the study shows the metro area is actually experiencing a “brain gain” among young adults – a good sign for its economic future.

Immigrants are an important part of that trend because those who settle here tend to be highly educated. But we’re not attracting as many of them as comparable cities like Columbus and Pittsburgh.

It’s not clear whether local efforts like Global Cleveland’s are helping to remedy that. But the group, which has been around since 2011, is certainly trying. 

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