Lucas County, Ohio redesignated as Certified Welcoming by Welcoming America
June 20, 2023 — Welcoming America, a national nonprofit organization, announces the redesignation of Lucas County, Ohio as a Certified Welcoming place on World Refugee Day and during Immigrant Heritage Month in the U.S.
Lucas County, along with its county seat, the City of Toledo, are the only city and county duo to jointly hold the Certified Welcoming designation. The City of Toledo gained its redesignation in September 2022. Together, they are part of the 18 places in the United States with the Certified Welcoming designation.
Rachel Perić, executive director of Welcoming America, said: “We are thrilled to see Lucas County double down on its commitment to being a welcoming place where all of its residents, including immigrants, can contribute, thrive, and prosper. With more people on the move around the globe than ever before, Lucas County has demonstrated through its policies and programs that it can be a place to call home for all of us, no matter where we’re from.”
The Lucas County Commissioners said: “We are proud to be the first county and city in the nation to jointly achieve Certified Welcoming status, and there couldn’t be a better time to celebrate this achievement than during Immigrant Heritage Month. This certification means we went beyond just declaring ourselves welcoming, but we achieved national best practices to prove it. If you are an immigrant or a refugee, you’re not only welcome here, but we have put in place resources and support to help you thrive in our community.”
A formal announcement of the redesignation will be made at a 10 a.m. press conference today by Lucas County Commissioners Pete Gerken, Tina Skeldon Wozniak, and Lisa A. Sobecki and their partners at the City of Toledo and Welcome Toledo Lucas County, with remarks by Melissa Bertolo, senior director of the Certified Welcoming program at Welcoming America.
You can watch a video of the press conference on the Board of Lucas County Commissioners Facebook page.
“Toledo has always opened its arms to new residents, regardless of their origins, and this joint certification reaffirms that commitment,” Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz said. “Our community is made stronger by our cultural diversity, and we will continue to work with Lucas County to ensure the appropriate resources are in place for us to walk the walk as a welcoming community.”
As of 2017, immigrant residents in Lucas County comprise 3.9 percent of the population and represent 4.8 percent of all spending power in the county. $1.4 billion was contributed to Lucas County’s GDP by foreign-born residents in 2017, which demonstrates their sizable impact on the local economy.
The 2021 American Community Survey estimates there are more than 15,000 Lucas County households where a language other than English is spoken at home. Nearly 13 percent of those households have limited English proficiency.
Certified Welcoming is a formal designation by Welcoming America for cities and counties that have created policies and programs reflecting their values and commitment to immigrant inclusion. Since launching in 2017, Certified Welcoming and its operating framework, the Welcoming Standard, have served as a roadmap for local governments seeking to build truly welcoming communities.
In order to receive the redesignation, Lucas County demonstrated its continued commitment to immigrant inclusion by working closely with the Welcome Toledo Lucas County initiative. Since initial certification, Lucas County has also created an Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion to ensure immigrant inclusion work is a core function of the local government.
About Welcoming America
Welcoming America is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that leads a movement of inclusive communities becoming more prosperous by ensuring everyone belongs. We believe that all people, including immigrants, are valued contributors and vital to the success of our communities and shared future. Learn more at welcomingamerica.org.
About Certified Welcoming
Certified Welcoming is a formal designation for local governments that have created policies and programs reflecting their values and commitment to immigrant inclusion. This innovative program assesses local governments on their efforts to include and welcome immigrants in all areas of civic, social, and economic life in their communities. With a Certified Welcoming designation, communities distinguish their local efforts, build a competitive advantage, and gain access to opportunities to share their welcoming practices on a regional, national, and global stage. Learn more at certifiedwelcoming.org.