Ten days ago, the two regional visioning efforts, Agenda 360 on the north side of the river and Vision 2015 on the south side, issued a regional indicators report entitled "Diverse by Design: Meeting the Talent Challenge in a Global Economy." The report attempts to establish a baseline set of data that compares metropolitan Cincinnati with 11 other regions around these issues. The perspective is through a business lens.
The report explores the impact of a relative scarcity of regional demographic diversity in local workforces and leadership circles on the ability of local businesses to successfully compete and thrive in a globalizing economy. The goal is to stimulate a community conversation and set of actions that have the potential to better align the business environment of our region with the nation as a whole.
To discuss the report and plans to build on its findings, I am joined by the leaders of the two organizations that commissioned this study and are committed to implementing a series of initiatives suggested by the data. Mary Stagaman is the executive director of Agenda 360 and vice president of Strategic Initiatives at the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber. Bill Scheyer is the president of Vision 2015 in Northern Kentucky.
Mary and Bill have worked closely together for three years to make sure that the two efforts are coordinating their efforts to move the region together in a unified fashion.
As we move into 2013, one of the major issues on the national agenda is immigration reform. Cincinnatians love to talk about our heritage of German and Irish immigration between 1830 and 1861. But the most important thing to understand about the immigration history of this region is that since the outbreak of the civil war 150 years ago, Cincinnati has been out of the flow of foreign immigration.
By 1921, the Cincinnati Times Star described Cincinnati as the "most American city in the north"--meaning the waves of eastern and southern Europeans that came to America in beginning in 1880--went elsewhere. Although the Times Star celebrated that lack of foreign born, in the twenty first century we are able to see the implications of that isolation. Simply put, we have lost our skills of welcoming the newcomer and are left with a conservatism that borders on stagnation.
One of the speakers at the Diverse by Design conference on December 12 was Richard Herman, the author of Immigrant, Inc. A graduate of the University of Cincinnati, Mr. Herman is a lawyer who lives in Cleveland. I began by asking him to comment on the widespread belief that immigrants, whether with valid documents, or un-documented, are taking jobs from Americans.