Feb 15, 2024 - News

Cuyahoga County opens Welcome Center for immigrants and refugees

Smiling and clapping Cuyahoga County leaders hold pieces of a red ribbon that they just cut inside a county facility.

No shortage of scissors to cut the ribbon. Photo: Sam Allard/Axios

Newcomers to Cuyahoga County now have a one-stop shop for essential services when they arrive from other countries.

Why it matters: County Executive Chris Ronayne has been touting the economic and cultural benefits of immigrants since the campaign trail in 2022, and he framed Wednesday's ribbon-cutting for a Welcome Center in Old Brooklyn as a promise kept.

What's happening: Job training, medical care, school selection, legal support, benefits enrollment, language and translation services — you name it, it'll be covered at the new center.

Zoom in: It'll be located within the county government offices at 4261 Fulton Parkway and will be open 9am-4pm Tuesday-Thursday.

  • "Those hours will expand," Ronayne said. "We have to walk before we can run."
  • Allied nonprofits, including Global Cleveland and Re:Source Cleveland, will help staff the center.

Between the lines: Ronayne said the location is strategic, sandwiched between Clark-Fulton, home to the city's densest concentration of Latinos, and Parma, a prime destination for the recent wave of Ukrainian immigrants.

The intrigue: The county has also received a "Certified Welcoming" designation from Welcoming America, becoming the second county and the fourth municipality in Ohio to be so recognized.

  • The certification is bestowed on municipalities that have created policies and programs that demonstrate a commitment to immigrant inclusion.

The bottom line: Cuyahoga County is home to more than 120 unique nationalities, and leaders celebrated the new center not only as a practical resource for newcomers, but also as a physical symbol of the region's values.

  • "The Welcome Center embodies the compassion, empathy and solidarity that define us as a community," said County Councilwoman Meredith Turner. "It's a testament to our belief in the inherent dignity in every human being."
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