Mohammed Al-Fityan, Deputy Chief of Protocol with the Iraqi Ministry of Foreign Affairs, offered this insight after his recent trip to metro Detroit, “I was in Detroit 10 years ago and saw how the city was facing financial difficulties, many destroyed and abandoned buildings. But when I visited Detroit in 2018, I was amazed how the city had changed in a beautiful way. A safe and clean city.” To him it was proof that “Detroit is America’s great comeback city.”
Mohammed was here with a U.S. State Department sponsored program as part of an Iraqi International Trade Delegation hosted by Global Ties Detroit. The delegation included public and private sector leaders who were so impressed with the energy and forward direction of the region that they will actively seek to bring more delegations to metro Detroit.
Global Ties Detroit Executive Director, Marian Reich, points out that the organization “promotes Detroit and the metropolitan region as a center of world commerce and culture. We connect internationally-minded Detroiters with their counterparts from around the world to forge lasting relationships which become powerful tools to address and solve some of our biggest global challenges.”
The Iraqi Trade delegation is only one example of almost 60 programs that bring global dignitaries and delegates who include U.S. Department of State and USAID-sponsored professional exchange visitors, Fulbright scholars, business leaders, entrepreneurs, government officials, educators and civil society Fellows to the eight county SE Michigan region annually. These influential change-makers come to metro Detroit for topics that range from economic development, entrepreneurship, and international trade to cyber security, government transparency, mobility, and sustainability. Local business leaders, government officials, university faculty, and more play host to the visitors while they are here.
In fact, so many delegations come through Global Ties Detroit in one year, that over $1.5 million dollars is pumped back into the local economy through hotel rooms, meals and transportation alone. That’s about 2,900 hotel room nights, 8,000 meals and a whole lot of transportation to get them to/from meetings throughout the area, including the University of Michigan, TechTown, GM Tech Center, OU INC, Selfridge ANGB, Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge, and more to cultural outings at The Henry Ford, a Detroit Tigers game, the Motown Museum, Cranbrook Art Museum, or the DIA. Not to mention the hospitality of hundreds of local volunteers who gave almost 6,000 hours of their time in the past year.
In 2018, Global Ties Detroit welcomed close to 800 emerging leaders from 128 countries; that’s 2/3 of the total countries around the globe – from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. Because of Detroit’s stellar reputation for hospitality, the State Department awarded the opening summit of the Young Leaders of the Americas program to Global Ties Detroit, bringing nearly 300 entrepreneurs from Latin America and the Caribbean to the region for the kick-off event. Francine Pegues, Board President reminds everyone that “We could not accomplish all that we do without the support of the local community and national sponsors like DTE Energy, Delta Airlines, Miller Canfield, and Infinity and Ovation Yacht Charters.”
This year promises to be just as busy with many opportunities for Detroiters to get involved as Citizen Diplomats. If you wish to be a part of this Detroit Diplomacy, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit globaltiesdetroit.org.