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National Convening to be Held in Philadelphia Highlights the Role of Immigrants in Economic Revitalization Efforts

WHAT: The Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians and the City of Philadelphia Office of Immigrant Affairs will host the 4th Annual Welcoming Economies Global Network Convening in Philadelphia, bringing together over 350 leaders from across the country who are committed to welcoming, retaining and empowering immigrants as valued contributors to our economies. The highlight of the WE Global Convening will be a day-long public conference featuring presentations by local and national leaders covering the topics of: Workforce Development, Entrepreneurship and Business, Neighborhood Development, Uniting Across Movements, and, Organizational Capacity Building.

The convening will commence on Wednesday, October 19th at 1:30 PM with tours of Philadelphia neighborhoods where immigrant entrepreneurs are starting businesses and contributing to the economic and cultural vitality of our communities.

Steve Tobacman, a leading organizer of the event had this to say about choosing Philadelphia as the perfect location for the Welcoming Economies Global Network’s 4th Annual Convening:

“When we selected Philadelphia and the Welcoming Center as our host city and partner, our decision was based on the tremendous work that had been accomplished there including:

  • Philadelphia’s population rebound – Between 2000 and 2013, Philadelphia’s population grew by 35,615 residents. Its immigrant population grew by 59,824 (or 168% of the total population growth) over that time period.
  • National leading work on workforce and entrepreneurship programs by the Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians, as well as national leading work on micro-credit by Finanta, and the work of several other innovative programs and partners that have helped immigrants integrate into Philadelphia.
  • Tremendous City support – Philadelphia has benefited from the leadership of former Mayor Michael Nutter, who created the first Philadelphia Mayor’s Office of Immigrant and Multicultural Affairs. Current Mayor Jim Kenney was an early advocate and is working hard to make Philadelphia a welcoming place since becoming mayor by deepening investments in city staff, language access plans, and integrating pro-immigration policies in every aspect of city government.

“The convening will be held less than three weeks before the Presidential Election” explains Tobacman. “Our Convening will be in stark contrast to the shrill dialogue that has come to dominate federal immigration debates.”

Consider this data:

  • Immigrants make up 10% of Philadelphia’s workforce
  • 75% of workforce growth since 2000 is due to immigrants
  • 18% of all growth in small business owners are immigrants
  • 96% of “main street” business ownership growth since 2000 is due to immigrants
  • $770 million of the $1 billion total in “main street” business earning are accounted by immigrants

The We Global Convening will focus on immigrant economic development and welcoming efforts championed by local chambers of commerce, economic development agencies, mayors and county executives, universities, research and policy institutions and other community leaders. The panels and discussions are designed to strengthen the work, maximize the impact, and sustain the efforts of individual local initiatives that welcome, retain, and empower immigrant communities as valued contributors to local economies.

WHEN: October 19 – 21, 2016

WHERE: Philadelphia Convention Center 12th and Arch Streets


  • Mayor Jim Kenney, Philadelphia Mayor, Keynote Speaker
  • Osagie Imasogie, Iroko Pharmaceuticals
  • Yasmine Mustafa, ROAR for Good
  • Steve Tobacman, Global Detroit
  • David Lubell, Welcoming America
  • Peter Gonzales, Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians
  • Miriam Enriquez, City of Philadelphia Office of Immigrant Affairs

Photos opportunities and opportunities to interview speakers and attendees are available.

Neighborhood Tours– Wednesday, October 19 from 1:30 – 5:00 PM (All tours will leave in trolleys from the Philadelphia Convention Center. Below are the neighborhoods and the local organizations that will be involved in the tours).

Chinatown – Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation, Folk Arts-Cultural Treasures Charter School, Asian Americans United, Philadelphia Commerce Department.

South Philadelphia (S. 7th – S. 9th Street) – SEMAAC, Cambodian Association, Cambodian Town, Greater Philadelphia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, Juntos, Philadelphia Commerce Department.

Center City and South Philadelphia – Nationalities Services Center, Community Gardens, Center City District, Old City District, Philadelphia Commerce Department.

West/Southwest Philadelphia – The Enterprise Center, ACANA, Southwest CDC, Woodland Avenue, 52nd Street Business Corridor, Philadelphia Commerce Department.

North 5th Street/El Centro de Oro – HACE, Taller Puertorriqueño, Congreso de Latinos Unidos, Philadelphia Commerce Department.

About Conference Hosts

The Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians accelerates immigrant integration and economic advancement through education, training, employment and entrepreneurship. Since opening its doors in 2003, the Welcoming Center has assisted more than 15,000 people from over 140 countries.

The mission of the City of Philadelphia Office of Immigrant Affairs is to promote the well-being of the immigrant community and other constituency groups in Philadelphia by: improving access to city services, engaging local and national community-based organizations and other non-profit groups, developing economic resources, promoting civic participation and assisting with educational opportunities and access.

The mission of the Welcoming Economies (WE) Global Network is to strengthen the work, maximize the impact, and sustain the efforts of local economic and community development initiatives across the region that welcome, retain, and empower immigrant communities as valued contributors to the region’s shared prosperity.

Sponsors of the convening include: The Philadelphia Foundation, WES Global Talent Bridge, Prepay Nation, Jefferson Health, Logan Hotel, PIDC, and the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority.

Media Contact:

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Kristen Fitch

Senior Director, Marketing