New GVSU partnership focuses on economic growth via immigration

Exterior shot of Seidman College of Business
A partnership between GVSU, the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce and Global Detroit will expand two programs centered on helping new Americans to encourage and drive economic growth in West Michigan.
Image credit - Kendra Stanley-Mills

A partnership announced on June 15 between Grand Valley State University, nonprofit Global Detroit and the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce will expand two programs centered on helping new Americans to encourage and drive economic growth in West Michigan.

President Philomena V. Mantella joined Rick Baker, president and CEO of the Grand Rapids Chamber; Nate Koetje, CEO of Feyen Zylstra and Steve Tobocman, executive director of Global Detroit to discuss the initiatives’ objectives aimed at broadening the region’s workforce talent and revitalizing Michigan’s population.

“We have a window of opportunity to move very quickly to deal with some of the serious talent gaps,” Mantella said. “GVSU is truly excited to team up with Grand Rapids Chamber and Global Detroit to ensure that international students and entrepreneurs are part of this talent pipeline.”

The expansion of the Global Talent Retention Initiative will connect businesses in West Michigan with international students and graduates to fill critical talent shortages while the Global Entrepreneur in Residence program will build pathways for foreign-born entrepreneurs who are launching start-ups, placing them with universities to mentor and teach while working on their ventures.

Global Detroit, a regional community and economic development organization, launched the initiatives across Southeast Michigan, partnering with several universities in that region to help retain students.

Tobocman said the nation’s economic history and its corporations were built by the hard work of immigrants and their children. 

“Ford, Dow and Meijer are three great Michigan companies that were all started by immigrants or first-generation children of immigrants,” Tobocman said. “Close to 50 percent of the Fortune 500 were created by these new Americans.” 

Mantella said GVSU has a strong history working with businesses and nonprofits to develop and retain talent in Michigan, adding that 90 percent of Grand Valley students remain in Michigan after graduation. 

“We are the catalyst, but we want others to join us,” Mantella said. “We know that we can multiply the effort. What is really key to this effort is that we reach out together in an organized way to show the opportunities in Michigan and institutions. It’s a full, holistic approach to involving, engaging and supporting these new Americans to be successful.”