International Center of Greater Flint launches its 'Global Flint Initiative'

FLINT, Michigan — On March 5, the International Center of Greater Flint (ICGF) held an event at the Gloria Coles Flint Public Library to launch its ‘Global Flint Initiative’ which focuses on developing a comprehensive network of resources and programs and conducting a needs assessment to identify gaps in services.

Spearheaded by Phyllis Sykes, Executive Director, Adil Mohammed, Program Director, and Jim Ananich, Vice President, the goal of the initiative is to create a strategic plan [with a roadmap] critical to building a secure, vibrant, inclusive, and resilient community.

The ICGF isn’t alone in its endeavor to make Flint and surrounding areas a vibrant and welcoming global community as the Global Flint Initiative kick-off event was well-attended by long-standing partners.

The event brought together several organizations such as the University of Michigan-Flint, Flint and Genesee Chamber, MTA, Greater Flints Arts Council, The LatinX Center, Huntington Bank, Lone Immigrant House, and more.

In addition, international students from Kettering University were also in attendance and contributed their knowledge in small breakout sessions. Professors from Kettering University and the University of Michigan-Flint were present to speak about this initiative and are partnering with the ICGF to collect data and create a strategic plan.

“The Global Flint Initiative is an effort to do a needs assessment of the newcomer population arriving in Flint. We saw this as an opportunity to see Flint becoming a welcoming community from all parts of the globe to Flint to raise families,” says Sykes.

“We also want to talk to Flint natives to find out their perceptions about this population, their concerns, and what we can do to bridge the gap,” Sykes continued. “The partnerships have expanded in the community because everyone is seeing the value of what the new population brings to the community, specifically in terms of entrepreneurship, cultural enhancement, and population growth. There are more advantages if we can attract and retain talent.”

Seven percent of Michigan’s population is made up of immigrants, mainly in the Metro-Detroit and Grand Rapids areas. Immigrant populations have accounted for billions in the state’s economy and make up nine percent of all self-employed entrepreneurs. Programming and identification have taken place across the state like those from Global Michigan as well as Gov. Whitmer announcing June as Immigrant Heritage Month in 2022.

Flint has seen its international population grow over the last several years and was named the “Gateway to Growth” city in 2019. Multiple businesses have been taking notice over the years such as The LatinX Technology Center and the Arab American Heritage Center — two organizations in Flint that work closely with the ICGF. Both places have aided international communities in Flint, a home away from home, ensuring their voices are heard and documented.
The International Center of Greater Flint is on a mission to "make Flint and surrounding areas a vibrant and welcoming global community."
Based on years of outreach and event programming, the ICGF has dedicated itself to making Flint a viable hub for immigrants, refugees, asylum seekers, and international students who find themselves in the city for various reasons.

This comprehensive needs assessment and strategic planning for Flint will span a variety of mediums, including Interviews, focus groups, surveys, and reaching out to and engaging the community to retain talent.

Thus far, the ICGF’s key findings, particularly concerning national issues with immigrants, refugees, and international student populations, are language, access to social services, documentation, food insecurity, fear of deportation, and more.

In addition, the ICGF intends to gather data from local organizations and community members. Business owners, community members, religious organizations, and more can contribute questions for a survey that’ll be used for qualitative focus groups and interviews with organizations to meet the local global population where they are.

“There’s other examples who have taken advantage of these newcomers and immigrant population. We aren’t reinventing the wheel, but we’re trying to find a way to use the solution or adapt a solution to Flint's specific needs,” explains Mohammed.

“We’re being more deliberate, intentional, and transparent with the local populations,”  Mohammed continued. “There’s this perception about when you’re talking about [immigrant populations] that it’s a zero-sum game. We’re going to take our time and the expertise available to use and leverage the relationships and connections we have across the state to do the right thing for Flint.”

For more information and to support the International Center of Greater Flint, visit:
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Read more articles by Xzavier Simon.