Atlanta is a global city on the rise. It boasts the fourth most Fortune 500 companies in America, and has experienced the largest entrepreneurial growth in the nation over the last decade, including more than 60,600 immigrant entrepreneurs. Part of what makes the city so attractive to multi-national companies and business owners from around the world is the city’s commitment to cultural diversity.
“We attract a diverse crowd of immigrants and Americans,” says Jennifer Gerndt, who directs the Goethe-Zentrum, Atlanta’s German Cultural Center. “And our staff is similarly varied. We represent dozens of countries among us. The one thing we all have in common, however, is that we love being part of an organization that welcomes everyone and encourages us all to step out of our local communities and be a part of a global community.”
It’s not surprising then, that Atlanta ranks 14th in New American Economy’s Cities Index, which rates the American cities most welcoming to immigrants. The metro area scored especially high in the category of Community, which looks at efforts to facilitate interactions and improve awareness between immigrants and American-born citizens.
At the Cultural Center, for example, Gerndt oversees events and services, which include everything from language classes and career training to wine tastings and art exhibits.
Gerndt agrees that building lasting ties between Atlanta’s foreign- and American-born residents is important. It helps foreign-born residents adapt to American life, while creating opportunities for Americans to learn about new cultures. “And that opens your worldview and makes life just a little more interesting and colorful,” she says. She calls this a “harmonious blending of cultures.”
[This] harmonious blending of cultures […] opens your worldview and makes life just a little more interesting and colorful.”
Case in point: The center held World Cup viewing parties, and even though Germany was eliminated and the Unites States wasn’t competing, more than 300 people still showed up to cheer on the remaining teams. “It was a great reminder that the United States and Germany are only part of the big picture,” says Gerndt.