LANSING — There is no doubt about it — Lansing is an international community. With Michigan State University welcoming 1,200 Chinese undergrads this fall, in addition to the heavy mix of international students MSU welcomes every year, the need for a unified strategy to help guide Lansing into becoming a truly welcoming region for international residents and visitors is key.

There have been many organizations working to develop initiatives and programming to do this for some time, but under the Global Lansing workgroup partnership through the Lansing Economic Area Partnership, these efforts will be replicated on a regional scale and strengthened with the help of many volunteers.

While the Lansing region has a continually growing international population, groups like Michigan State University have begun working closely with other regional partners, the Greater Lansing Convention and Visitors Bureau, Meridian Township, LEAP, Prima Civitas and others to develop strategies to better utilize and leverage this unique asset of our community. Many things have been identified as priorities. Connecting students to local shopping and services, transportation, placemaking, internships, entrepreneurship, foreign business investment and VISA status have all been outlined as issues that will need to be addressed through this new workgroup.

Additionally, the Michigan Economic Development Corp. has been working to develop the Global Michigan initiative to unify the state, strengthen ties internationally, and proclaim Michigan as a welcoming state for international students, business, and investment. The MEDC has begun to identify regions with similar priorities and initiatives and is offering assistance at the state level to strengthen regional efforts.

“We have a very unique opportunity to develop lasting relationships with these international students and visitors that will be hugely beneficial to our local businesses and residents and it also competitively places us where our region must be – amongst international cities with a very bright future,” said Sara Graham, Director of Talent and Communications at LEAP as well as project manager for the Global Lansing initiative. “Global Lansing is the catalyst in assisting with these goals and integrating these individuals into our community. We want to be welcoming to all international business, students, and residents.”

“The world is changing with amazing speed. The growing presence of international students and scholars reflects how global and local are merged and transforming life in Michigan,” said Peter Briggs, Director of the Office for International Students and Scholars at Michigan State University. “We want the memories of college years at MSU to be positive. This involves the caring people in the community.”

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