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February 8, 2018


Commission passes resolution reaffirming commitment to diversity, inclusion

DETROIT - Today, Wayne County Executive Warren Evans and the Wayne County Commission reaffirmed the County's commitment to diversity, inclusion and tolerance as the Commission passed a resolution declaring Wayne County a Welcoming County. Joined by community and civic leaders in the Guardian Building, the leaders held a special presentation recognizing the contribution of immigrants and celebrating the critical importance of diversity and inclusion.

"When you look across all 43 communities, Wayne County is really the face of America and we are very proud of that," Evans said. "Diversity has been a great advantage for the county and the country. The contributions of immigrants are countless, we're a much better country because of them. Unfortunately, there's a climate today where many people don't feel welcome and that's hurting us as a society."

In partnering with Welcoming Michigan, a chapter of Welcoming America, the County will engage both U.S. and foreign-born residents in creating a welcoming atmosphere while building relationships that foster mutual respect among longtime resident and newcomers. The County becomes just one of 14 counties nationwide to join the effort, according to Welcoming America. As part of the effort the County commits to communicating messages of unity and shared values while working to improve inclusion and access to government for all people.

"There are tremendous economic, cultural and societal benefits to being a welcoming community," said Wayne County Commission Chairman Gary Woronchak, who introduced the resolution after a request from the County Executive. "This is the right thing to do, and it's always been the way we've operated in Wayne County, but in today's political environment I think it's important to reaffirm our commitment to these ideals, to say it out loud."

Welcoming Michigan is committed to building a more welcoming state by focusing on helping people who were born in this country understand and appreciate their new Michigan neighbors. It is a project of the Michigan Immigrant Rights Center, with support of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Welcoming America partners with community-based organizations and local governments, including about 20 in Michigan, who are part of a larger national cohort of more than 100 local governments.

"Immigrants are job creators, but make so many other contributions that also enrich our lives," said Mary Carmen Munoz, operations manager LA SED. "Diversity is the foundation of this country and this resolution reaffirms Wayne County's commitment to equality and opportunity to ALL their residents.

As of 2016, 49.7% of Wayne County's 1.7 million residents is classified as white, 39.2% Black or African American, 3.2% Asian, 0.5% Native American, 5.8% Hispanic or Latino (of any race) and 2.5% of two or more races. Wayne County is the most populous county in Michigan, ranked 19th in the United States, according to the U.S. Census. It is home to a large concentration of immigrants and refugees, and is the most diverse population in the state. Michigan's Arab population grew by more than 65% between 1990 and 2000. According to Arab America, more than 80% of Arab Americans reside in Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties, and more than 40% of Dearborn's population identifies as having Arab heritage.

"Wayne County continues to serve as a model of diversity for counties all across our nation. It is leadership like this that will help further unite our community in the spirit of love and humanity," said Ahmad Abuznaid, director of the National Network for Arab American Communities, a project of ACCESS. "We look forward to working together to ensure that all people will be feel welcome here in their home, in our home, Wayne County."

The Welcoming Wayne County effort will be part of a larger diversity and inclusion initiative led by the County Executive's office - Wayne United - which will focus on telling Wayne County's diversity story and raising awareness about the social, cultural and economic benefits of inclusion.

"Valuing diversity and inclusion is nothing more than basic human decency," said Detroit NAACP President Rev. Wendell Anthony. "Treating others as you wish to be treated should be automatic, but unfortunately it's not. Inclusion has to be intentional to be effective. The fight for equality for all people will never end. I commend the Wayne County Executive and the Wayne County Commission for passing this timely resolution."

Some economic data from Welcoming Michigan:

· 37.8% of foreign born adults have a bachelor's degree or higher.

· 24,214 foreign students in Michigan contribute $657.6 million to the state economy.

· The purchasing power of Michigan's Asian and Latino populations, respectively is $9 billion and $9.3 billion.

· Asian-owned and Latino-owned businesses in Michigan have sales and receipts of $7.7 billion and $3.9 billion, respectively.