DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) - The Dayton City Commission has accepted the framework of the "Welcome Dayton" plan, a community-wide initiative designed to attract immigrant groups that can help the city grow jobs, businesses and population.
"You look around our community and see that people from all over the world are attending our colleges and universities, being trained in our hospitals, or working in our area technology industries," City Manager Tim Riordan said. "Immigrants are more than twice as likely as other citizens to become entrepreneurs and create jobs. We want to make every effort we can to not only attract more of these creative and industrious people, but also to encourage them to stay in our community and plant deep roots for the future."
More than 130 people representing all segments of the community participated in crafting the Welcome Dayton plan. Mayor Gary Leitzell said this broad-based participation shows the region understands the importance of the immigrant friendly concept.
"This is not a City of Dayton government program," Mayor Leitzell said. "For this effort to be successful, it will take the support and active participation of businesses, schools, institutions and organizations throughout the Dayton area. The Welcome Dayton plan represents an attitude we all must adopt to take advantage of the brainpower, energy and resources available through the various immigrant groups coming to Dayton."
As an example of how immigrants can contribute productively to the community, City Commissioner Matt Joseph cited the positive change that a group of Ahiska Turks have made in the Old North Dayton area.
"This group of Turkish people, who were forced out of their homeland near Russia many years ago, first began arriving in Dayton in 2004 after our federal government granted them refugee status," Commissioner Joseph said. "What started out as a handful of families has grown to between 300-400 families living here today. And they are helping to transform the neighborhood by buying and fixing up homes, creating businesses, raising families, and becoming involved in neighborhood activities. This is a perfect example of how hardworking immigrants can benefit the social and economic makeup of our community."
Riordan said those who are opposed to the plan and attempt to link it to the issue of "illegal" immigration are missing the point.
"Critics conveniently connect the word 'immigrant' with the word 'illegal' when talking about the Welcome Dayton plan, but that's not what this initiative is all about," Riordan said. "We have many good people from all nationalities coming here to invest in the community and to build a better life. The same thing is happening in cities and towns across the country. Our local colleges and universities see the benefits of this movement and are actively recruiting more foreign-born students. This is the reality of a world that is getting smaller and smaller, so we should take advantage of the opportunities that are at hand."
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