Guide to Immigrant Economic Development

Steve Tobocman
Date of Publication: 
July, 2015
Source Organization: 
Welcoming America

According to Tobocman, the last half-decade has seen a convergence of interest between economic development specialists and advocates for immigrant integration.

Both have come to see that immigrant integration can serve as an engine for economic development. "Cities that lead in the 21st century," the report contends, "will be those that intentionally attract and incorporate diverse people and ideas, and create the means for talented people from around the world to not only come, but to put down roots." The Guide is a compendium of immigrant-focused economic development strategies and model practices. There are separate chapters on immigrant entrepreneurship, workforce development, initiatives for highly skilled immigrants, connector programs, home ownership, urban agriculture, export promotion, international student retention, immigrant investor visas, corporate diversity programs, and general integration services. Within each of these topical areas, the author assesses the state of the art and identifies different models or approaches to achieve a particular policy goal. For example, in the entrepreneurship chapter, he identifies four different models to promote immigrant entrepreneurship: the Community Development Model, as represented by the Neighborhood Development Center of Minneapolis/ St. Paul; the Case Management Model, as represented by the Welcoming Center for New Pennsylvanians; the Service Integration Model, as exemplified by the Mission Economic Development Agency of San Francisco; and the Women Entrepreneurship Model, as represented by the Acre Family Child Care Program in Lowell, MA, which trains women to develop licensed, home-based child care businesses.  The chapter on "connector" programs showcases a program in Halifax, Nova Scotia, that has been replicated in 15 Canadian communities. Connector programs are similar to mentorship programs, except that the time commitment from volunteers is not as onerous. The lead author of the report is Steve Tobocman, Director of Global Detroit and a founder of the Welcoming Economies (WE) Global Network of Welcoming America, a ten-state regional network of local immigrant economic development initiatives. (Abstract courtesy Nicholas Montalto, PhD.)

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Tobocman, S. (2015). Guide to Immigrant Economic Development. Welcoming America. Decatur: GA. Available at: