In 2022, the Center for Economic Opportunity & Belonging at EDCUtah launched the Welcoming and Belonging Community Cohort in partnership with Welcoming America.
Welcoming America is a nonprofit organization leading a movement of belonging in order to create more inclusive and prosperous communities. Fear of the unknown can be an overwhelming feeling when facing new things. Fear, at times, can lead to division and resentment. In order to combat this, welcoming initiatives can help prepare communities to be open to new things and new people.
Welcoming is the intentional act of creating a community in which everyone can find a place where they are accepted and respected. This means that everyone–regardless of gender, religion, country of origin, class, race, physical ability, and more–can find a place and purpose within their community. Feeling welcome where you live and work is not just an individual concern; it can also have a direct impact on the businesses and communities EDCUtah serves.
The Welcoming and Belonging Community Cohort is made up of four Utah communities with a population between 10,000 and 50,000 that were selected to participate in a year-long experience to create welcoming and belonging strategies. We focused on smaller communities where similar programs did not already exist and where the impact of this investment could have the greatest impact. Brigham City, Cedar City, Tooele City, and the Southeastern Utah Association of Local Government (SEUALG) form the inaugural cohort. Each of the communities received a free one-year membership to Welcoming America, regular training, and one-on-one technical assistance.
As part of this initiative, we are interviewing members of the Welcoming and Belonging Community Cohort to talk about their progress, highlight success stories, and share best practices. This will be an online series highlighting one cohort community each month. Please stay tuned to hear about the welcoming work being done across Utah.
We hope these stories inspire you to join us in welcoming everyone to our communities. Check back here for links to each community story in the coming months:
Ze Min Xiao
Director, Center for Economic Opportunity & Belongingzxiao@edcutah.org