First-ever plan in Champaign County has recommendations for better integrating immigrants into the local community, economy, and workforce

Champaign County, IL —  The New American Welcome Center (NAWC) at the University YMCA announces the release of a welcoming plan for Champaign County to become a more dynamic and cohesive community. The Champaign County Welcoming Plan is the culmination of a multi-year strategic planning and community input process with key stakeholders. The plan will be released on Wednesday, September 15 from 4:00pm to 5:30pm at the I-Hotel and Conference Center. Community leaders will present recommendations from the plan and discuss how we as a community can advance the civic, social, and economic integration of immigrants in Champaign County. 

Location: I-Hotel and Conference Center, 1900 S. First Street, Champaign

Date: Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Time: 4:00pm-5:30pm

Room: Heritage Hall 1+4 [Press area at the back of the room which is standing area. The room is set up with theatre-style seating. Masks required. Vaccination is strongly recommended. Non-vaccinated individuals must complete a negative COVID-19 test within 72 hours of the event.]


4:00pm: Doors Open

4:05pm: Welcome

         Ricardo Diaz, Chair, New American Welcome Center Advisory Board

4:10pm: Opening Remarks

Mayor Diane Wolfe Marlin, City of Urbana

4:15pm: Report Presentation

Gloria Yen & Sang Lee, University YMCA

Carly McCrory-McKay, Champaign County Economic Development Corporation

Lisa Wilson, The Refugee Center

Pam Leiter, Champaign County Forest Preserve District

Amanda Gray
Rachel Joy, City of Champaign

4:40pm: Panel Discussion
Chris Garcia, Champaign County Health Care Consumers
Gioconda Guerra Perez, PhD, University of Illinois
Sheriff Dustin Heuerman, Champaign County Sheriff’s Office
Carly McCrory-McKay, Champaign County Economic Development Corporation

Moderator: Susan Ogwal, PhD, University of Illinois

5:05pm: Question and Answer

5:20pm: Closing

Ricardo Diaz, Chair, New American Welcome Center Advisory Board

About the Champaign County Welcoming Plan. The Champaign County Welcoming Plan provides a framework to pursue a more equitable and inclusive future. It serves as a guide for all of Champaign County to take actionable steps forward in building community of belonging, where all of us – no matter where we come from – have equal opportunity to thrive.

“The multi-year effort to create this plan is a testament to the commitment Champaign County has to ensure our community is welcoming and inclusive,” said Carly McCrory-McKay, Executive Director of the Champaign County Economic Development Corporation. “At approximately 25,500 strong, Champaign County is home to one of the largest immigrant populations in Illinois – and we know that number will continue to grow. This new Welcoming Plan covers many important topics and outlines critical recommendations for us all as we work towards the goal of ensuring that newcomers and immigrants can flourish in our community.” 

Champaign County is home to one of the largest immigrant populations in Illinois. In 2017, Champaign-Urbana was one of 25 communities nationwide selected for the Gateways for Growth Award to receive custom research from the New American Economy (NAE) on the demographic and economic impact of immigrants in Champaign County, as well as technical assistance from NAE and Welcoming America to support the planning process. Over the past three years, members of Champaign County’s immigrant communities, service providers, government, businesses, public sector institutions and faith communities worked together to create a plan for social, civic, and economic integration of the immigrant community. The Champaign County Welcoming Plan recognizes the contributions of a growing immigrant community and the vital need to create an inclusive environment for all residents of the county.

“Immigrants are already active residents of our county; this welcoming plan only helps make them a more integrated part of a vibrant community of people.” Ricardo Diaz, Chair, New American Welcome Center Advisory Board

“As the fabric of our local Muslim community is woven by representatives of over 40 countries, we value and appreciate all sincere efforts in serving the needs of immigrant individuals & families,” said Ahmed Taha, President of the Muslim American Society (MAS) of Urbana-Champaign. “As a founding advisory board member of the University YMCA’s New American Welcome Center (NAWC), we are committed to working hand-in-hand to make UC an inclusive and welcoming environment.”

Read the full report here.


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