Each month in St. Louis, one immigrant who was an engineer in his or her home country but isn't currently working in the field is invited to the Engineers' Club's regular networking dinner. The practice began earlier this year, after the club met with the St. Louis Mosaic Project, a public-private partnership founded by civic leaders to get the whole city working together to promote St. Louis as an immigrant-friendly place. The project has also been working to make it easier for some 6,000 international students at local colleges to find jobs in the area when they graduate, by persuading the Regional Business Council to include international students in its internship program, for example.
St. Louis is hardly alone in rolling out the welcome mat for immigrants. Over the past half-decade, many cities in the Midwest and beyond have been looking to boost their declining populations and strengthen their local economies by making their communities as enticing as possible to new arrivals from other countries.
Such efforts — from Ohio's Welcome Dayton initiative to the nonprofit Global Detroit — have become so common, in fact, that groups representing 20 metro areas, from Buffalo, N.Y., to Minneapolis, will head to the Global Great Lakes conference in Pittsburgh this June, where they'll swap ideas on promoting immigration as an economic-development opportunity. Pittsburgh's new mayor, William Peduto, who made welcoming immigrants part of his campaign platform, will speak at the event.