Mayor’s Office of Communications
55 Trinity Avenue, Suite 2500 • Atlanta, Georgia 30303
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 09/17/2014
Mayor Kasim Reed Announces Results of Welcoming Atlanta Working Group
Mayor Reed announces city’s commitment to recommendations provided by the Working Group to ensure that Atlanta’s newly arrived communities are integrated and supported
ATLANTA – Mayor Kasim Reed and members of the Welcoming Atlanta Group announced today the recommendations being implemented to foster a welcoming environment in the City of Atlanta for all individuals regardless of race, ethnicity, or place of origin. The 20 recommendations will focus on community engagement, developing and harnessing talent, and public safety. The announcement was made during National Welcoming Week which highlights the contributions of immigrants from across the globe and their instrumental impact on the day to day lives of all Americans. Metro Atlanta boosts the second fastest growing foreign-born population in the country, second only to Baltimore.
“As Atlanta positions itself to be a global leader, attracting and retaining talent is imperative,” said Mayor Reed. “The Welcoming Atlanta initiative builds upon the existing priorities for the city – public safety, welfare, economic development, civic engagement and education – and in so doing, will not only create an environment that is welcoming to new arrivals, but a stronger community for all Atlantans.”
Earlier this year, Mayor Reed announced the creation of the Welcoming Atlanta Working Group. The 20-member group was tasked with developing recommendations to ensure that Atlanta’s newly arrived communities are being integrated and supported. Over the course of the summer, Welcoming Group co-chairs Jeffrey Tapia, executive director of the Latin American Association, and Charles Kuck, managing partner of Kuck Immigration Partners, met regularly with subcommittees to discuss key areas of immigrant integration including: ensuring equitable access to services; expanding educational opportunities; facilitating economic empowerment; enhancing public safety and fostering a connected community; and building immigrant civic engagement and leadership.
“We are thrilled to be a part of Mayor Reed’s historic commitment to the immigrant and refugee communities,” said Co-Chair Charles Kuck. “It’s been an honor to be entrusted with the responsibility to advise our city’s leader on the issues that we work on day in and day out and we are confident that the lives of all Atlantans will be enriched as we welcome America’s newest communities.”
In August, the Welcoming Atlanta Working Group presented recommendations to Mayor Reed. The City of Atlanta now commits to implementing the following recommendations proposed by the Welcoming Atlanta Working Group:
Community Engagement Recommendations
Goal: To reduce barriers to full civic participation while fostering positive relationships between the receiving community and new arrivals. To achieve the City of Atlanta will:
1. Create an Office of Multicultural Affairs with a Director who is part of the Mayor’s executive team.
2. Establish a Welcoming Atlanta Advisory Committee.
3. Create a website dedicated to the Welcoming Atlanta initiative.
4. Establish a citywide inclusive certification program.
5. Organize city dialogues with immigrant and refugee communities and groups in receiving communities.
6. Establish a My City Academy educational program.
7. Partner with Invest Atlanta and the Atlanta Beltline to expand pre-public notification of affordable housing options to include immigrant and refugee communities.
8. Partner with U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) to establish citizenship corners in Atlanta-Fulton public libraries.
9. Enlist well-known celebrities within the foreign-born communities to promote Welcoming Atlanta with an emphasis on the benefits of citizenship and community engagement.
10. Provide free booths for partner nonprofits to conduct voter registration and outreach at City of Atlanta festivals.
11. Assess current use of cultural competency training for all city employees and partner with nonprofits that specialize in cultural competency to develop a resource list and develop and implement curriculum.
12. Evaluate the city’s capacity to effectively serve immigrants and refugees by contracting a third party to conduct an internal and external needs assessment of public safety and customer service-oriented agencies, including a customer service assessment component.
Developing and Harnessing Talent Recommendations
Goal: To better harness the talents of, and provide opportunities for, today’s willing and able workers and develop a strong multicultural workforce for tomorrow. To achieve the City of Atlanta will:
13. Partner with non-traditional facilities to fund and expand opportunities for adult English language learning in the communities where immigrants and refugees live.
14. Use the Atlanta Workforce Development Agency (AWDA) to create targeted programming that recruits, trains and connects foreign-born workers to fill jobs critical to Atlanta’s economic competitiveness.
15. Assess and increase minority participation in the Small Business Enterprise Program.
16. Create a web-based one-stop shop for all entrepreneurs that clearly outlines the process, steps and requirements for starting a business in the city in multiple languages.
17. Address food deserts through immigrant entrepreneurship by providing incentives and assistance to grocers to open markets in food deserts.
18. Augment the findings of the disparity study with a survey of best practices to strengthen Atlanta’s Equal Business Opportunity Program.
Public Safety Recommendations
Goal: To foster a community of trust between Atlanta’s foreign-born population and the officers entrusted with protecting our streets. To achieve the City of Atlanta will:
19. Launch an initiative within APD and the City Prosecutor’s office to investigate and prosecute individuals who prey on immigrants (e.g., tax, credit card and other scams).
20. Create a Multicultural Liaison Unit in APD through scaling and expanding the existing Hispanic Liaison Unit.
In October 2013, the City of Atlanta joined the Welcoming Cities and Counties, an initiative of Welcoming America – a national, grassroots-driven collaborative that works to promote mutual respect and cooperation between foreign-born and native-born Americas. As one of 41 U.S. cities participating in the initiative, Atlanta has access to new tools and resources to help advance welcoming resolutions, initiatives and strategies, receive support for efforts to foster more vibrant, inclusive, and welcoming communities and participate in national and translantic learning exchanges that highlight best practices from globally competitive cities. Americas Society/Council of the Americas (AS/COA), an international business and policy organization working in new immigrant gateway cities around the country, is also serving as a strategic partner for the Welcoming Atlanta initiative as is the Partnership for a New American Economy, an organization that brings together leaders from all sectors to make the case for sensible immigration reform as a way to boost economic growth and create jobs for Americans.
On Thursday, as part of National Welcoming Week, Mayor Reed will join Welcoming America and officials from Detroit, MI and Dayton, OH on a national press call to further discuss Atlanta’s commitment to achieving global competitiveness by being welcoming.
Members of the Welcoming Atlanta Working Group include:
• Co-Chair: Jeffrey Tapia, Executive Director, The Latin American Association
• Co-Chair: Charles Kuck, Managing Partner, Kuck Immigration Partners
• Rudy Beserra, Vice President of Latin Affairs, The Coca-Cola Company
• Alejandro Coss, President, Latin American Chamber of Commerce
• Walter Dukes, Metro Atlanta Region Senior Vice President, Georgia Power
• Jason Esteves, Board Member, Atlanta Public School Board of Education
• Jerry Gonzalez, Executive Director, Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials
• Helen Kim Ho, Executive Director, Asian American Legal Advocacy Center
• Eloisa Klementich, Managing Director Business Development, Invest Atlanta
• Stefanie Jehlitschka, Vice President, German American Chamber of Commerce
• Pedro Marin, Representative, House District 96
• Z. Ileana Martinez, Partner, Thompson Hine
• Chuck Meadows, Vice President of Public Policy, Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce
• Kathy Palumbo, Director of Community Partnerships, The Community Foundation for Greater Atlanta
• Emily Pelton, Chair, Coalition of Refugee Serving Agencies
• Hon. Ricardo Cámara Sánchez, Consul General, Consulate General of Mexico, Atlanta
• Liz Sanford, Manager of Community Engagement, Atlanta Regional Commission
• Ivan Shammas, General Manager, Telemundo
• Tisha Tallman, President & CEO, Georgia Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
• Ambassador Geoffrey Teneilabe, Consul General, Consulate General of Nigeria, Atlanta
Richard Andre, Americas Society/Council of the Americas
Kate Brick, Americas Society/Council of the Americas
David Lubell, Welcoming America
Rachel Peric, Welcoming America
Dan Wallace, Partnership for a New American Economy
For more information about the City of Atlanta, please visit http://www.atlantaga.gov or watch City Channel 26. Follow the City of Atlanta on Facebook and Twitter @CityofAtlanta. Follow Mayor Reed on Facebook and Twitter @Kasim Reed