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Workshop focuses on supporting immigrant entrepreneurs in Dayton

April 2, 2014

FAIRBORN — Supporting Dayton’s immigrant entrepreneurs and preparing young people to compete in the global economy were the focus on a workshop at Wright State University March 14.


The workshop, “Immigrant, Inc.: Building an Ecosystem to Help Immigrant Entrepreneurs Succeed,” attracted immigrants, educators, students, business owners and government officials.


Held in the Wright State Nutter Center Berry Room, the summit focused on making Dayton the best place for immigrants to launch and grow their businesses. Participants discussed education strategies, trends in immigrant policies and economic development, and how to attract and retain a talented workforce.


“We all stand to benefit if we get immigrants to move here and then they invest in the area,” said Tony Ortiz, associate vice president of Latino affairs at Wright State.


The workshop was facilitated by technology strategist Todd Q. Adams; Guadalupe Velasquez, coordinator of the New American Initiative for the city of Columbus; and immigration attorney Richard Herman who co-authored Immigrant, Inc.: Why Immigrant Entrepreneurs Are Driving the New Economy (and How They Will Save the American Worker).


Dayton City Manager Tim Riordan and Melissa Bertolo, program coordinator of Welcome Dayton, discussed efforts by Dayton to welcome immigrants to the community and support their business initiatives.


Wright State Provost S. Narayanan, who immigrated to the United States from India to pursue his graduate studies, discussed how the university is helping to make the dreams of immigrants and international students come true.


Wright State has actively welcomed international students to campus and boasts a diverse faculty and staff, he said. New international students at Wright State increased by 42 percent last fall to 1,477.


The university’s efforts to look globally also include expanding study abroad programs for domestic students and encouraging academic exchanges and partnerships between Wright State faculty and universities in other countries.


In the 21st century global economy, Narayanan said, students must understand people from other cultures and be exposed to entrepreneurial perspectives.


“We bring the world to Ohio, to Dayton and to the university, and (students) get that exposure to the global environment,” Narayanan said, “which is absolutely critical because it prepares them for the future, because the world is changing drastically.”


“We had better be prepared for a changing world,” he added. “The one thing that’s constant in life is change. It’s important to be fully prepared or we’ll be left behind.”


He said it’s vital that universities “make sure that wherever students start from we get them to the finish line, prepare them very very well for this hyper-connected world of the future.”


Narayanan also noted that Wright State has benefited from immigrants who have created wealth and jobs and have given back to the community. This includes the Raj Soin College of Business, Joshi Research Center and the Boonshoft School of Medicine’s Gandhi Medical Education Center.


The workshop was organized by the Wright State Office of Latino Affairs and sponsored by Wright State University, Welcome Dayton, Dayton Hispanic Chamber, Dayton Business Journal and WYSO Public Radio.


Story by Bob Mihalek, Wright State University