Making Newcomers Feel Welcome in Your Community!

Newcomers bring new revenue and fresh ideas to your community. Here’s how to get intentional about welcoming and celebrating them.
 By Quint Studer

We all know we need people moving into our community to help keep it healthy. New residents fill job openings, pay taxes, populate schools, and spend money in the local economy. Plus, they bring in fresh ideas and new energy to keep things moving forward.

For these reasons, communities spend a lot of time and energy attracting new residents. We focus on economic development and tout our strong schools, reasonable cost of living, and low crime rate. But what we often don’t consider is what happens once they get here.

As I travel across the country and visit different communities, I find that at times people may do a great job on the hard stuff and forget to do the easy stuff. We need to make it a point to celebrate and include newcomers. When communities do a good job of this, it can be very powerful.

Think about your own social circle. When you’ve lived in a community for a while, you already have well-established groups. It can be hard to invite people in. But seeing these “closed” groups only makes newcomers long for their old community.

Most of us don’t mean to exclude anyone. But we’re all busy and we might not always make time to welcome newcomers. We need to get intentional about helping our community feel like home to them.

From working with chambers of commerce across the country, I know that these organizations are in a unique position to help newcomers. For starters, chambers have a vested interest: They need a new leadership pipeline and fresh ideas to breathe new life into the community. Also, they know everyone in town and are masters at connecting people.

The Putnam County Chamber of Commerce in Palatka, Florida, even created an award to celebrate a newcomer in their community. Michael Leonard, publisher of thePalatka Daily News and a new resident in town, received the 2018 Newcomer of the Year Award at the chamber’s 84th annual meeting in February.

The award is the brainchild of outgoing Chamber Chair Joe Pickens, president of St. Johns River State College, who had this to say: “When you move to a new place, it can be tough to break in, but Michael jumped right in and tried really hard to engage the community. We actually created this award for him, because we felt like this much effort deserved recognition. Not only did he embrace a lot of local issues, but he has really served as a positive influence in our community.”

We spend so much time attracting newcomers that it only makes sense to take care of them once you get them. It creates a ripple effect. They will tell others. People are what make our community great. We need to always remember this.

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 About the Author:

Quint Studer is author of Building a Vibrant Community and founder of Pensacola’s Studer Community Institute, a nonprofit organization focused on improving the community’s quality of life and moving Escambia and Santa Rosa counties forward. He is a businessman, a visionary, an entrepreneur, and a mentor to many. He currently serves as the Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the University of West Florida. For more information, visitwww.vibrantcommunityblueprint.com and www.studeri.org.

About the Book:

Building a Vibrant Community: How Citizen-Powered Change Is Reshaping America (Be the Bulb Publishing, 2018, ISBN: 978-0-9981311-1-5, $24.95) is available at Amazon.com.

 

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