Gateways to Growth to Promote Immigrant Integration
From Tulsa’s Mayor By G.T. BYNUM
Mayor of Tulsa
DIVERSITY IN OKLAHOMA: University of Oklahoma-Tulsa professor and former Tulsa Mayor Rodger Randle, lower left, hosts a series of discussions about diversity in Oklahoma. The session pictured above was held October 20 on the OU-Tulsa campus and was about the rise of the Hispanic/Latino community in Tulsa.
As your Mayor, I recognize that Tulsa’s greatest assets are our people. For the past few decades, a growing number of people from different countries are choosing to call Tulsa their home.
Trends show that immigrants have been a key part of Tulsa’s economic and social growth. As Tulsa becomes a world-class city, I believe that immigrants are valuable members of our community who can help contribute to our city’s overall success.
Recently, our city was selected as one of 25 Gateways for Growth Cities by the New American Economy () and Welcoming America. Our city has joined the ranks of Chicago, Dallas, Des Moines, Little Rock and Memphis, among others. The Gateways for Growth Grant will allow us to utilize data to better understand our growing immigrant and refugee population here in Tulsa.
With the Gateways for Growth Grant, I also announced a new effort to promote immigrant integration in Tulsa. The New Tulsans Initiative, spearheaded by Christina Starzl Mendoza community development and policy assistant in the Mayor’s Office, is a purposeful approach to promote the social inclusion of immigrants. Our partners in this new effort are the Schusterman Foundation, Tulsa Regional Chamber of Commerce, Tulsa County Health Department, Tulsa Area United Way and Tulsa.
This month, the City and the Tulsa Regional Chamber will host a “New Tulsans Summit,” which will bring local community organizations, businesses, nonprofits and residents together to help shape the direction of a strategic plan. We hope to have this fully developed within the coming year.
Immigrants are an important part of Tulsa’s success and prosperity. Right now, Tulsa is fortunate to have more than 2,200 immigrant entrepreneurs who help sustain our economic growth. Immigrants from different parts of the world are choosing Tulsa to buy homes, raise their families, participate in our faith communities and be our neighbors. I believe it’s crucial for our city to unite our diverse communities, engaging both native born and immigrant Tulsans to nurture healthy economic and social growth for everyone.
Many people know my family has been in Tulsa for a long time. However, I often think about my Irish ancestors coming here 100 years ago and what it would have meant to them to have a city that welcomed them with compassion and included them to participate in the economic and political leadership of that city. Ultimately, my desire is to let immigrants bring their best to our Tulsa – providing fresh perspectives, starting businesses, and contributing to the vibrant diversity that makes our city prosper.