LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - In light of the debate over what's happening at the U.S. border, Louisville just finished hosting a national conference focused on building bridges between immigrants and communities.
Louisville has been certified as a "Welcoming City." It's the first one in the South and one of only a few in the country.
A "Welcoming City" means just that -- a welcoming community for everyone. That's why the city was chosen to host this conference over the past few days.
"We think it's really critical to show the great work that's happening in places like Louisville, which is such a contrast to the horrifying images that were seeing at the border right now," Rachel Peric, the Executive Director of Welcoming America, said.
It's an organization focused on creating more inclusive communities for immigrants.
"The work here in Louisville is showing us that neighbors can come together to value one another," Peric said. "The city really prospers when we create an environment where everyone feels welcome."
Bryan Warren, the Director of Louisville's Office of Globalization, said it's been working a decade, with the immigrant population nearly doubling in that time.
"It not only means what we're doing is incredibly important -- we can now measure how effective we are at integrating immigrants into the community," Warren said.
During the conference, people presented successful policies and economic development ideas from not only Louisville, but from all over the country. Also, speakers held discussions about overcoming challenges many immigrants and refugees face today.
"We're hoping that people go back to their communities and work to create an environment that everyone can thrive and belong in," Peric said. "And we hope that they are leaving here with some tools and some practical ideas and a network to be able to do that more easily."
The conference ended June 20, on World Refugee Day.