Originally published by Utah Pulse on June 24, 2018

Welcoming America is pleased to congratulate Salt Lake County, Utah, for achieving the status of Certified Welcoming, the first county in the United States to earn the merit.

Welcoming America announced Salt Lake County’s achievement at the Welcoming Interactive + Welcoming Economies Convening in Louisville, Kentucky.

“Utah has always been a state where newcomers are welcomed, and Salt Lake County has thrived because of the multi-lingual, multi-cultural population.  I’m very proud that we are the first county to receive this certification. It validates that our effort to ensure that our actions match our words has succeeded,” said Mayor McAdams

According to research published by New American Economy, between 2000-2014, immigration to Salt Lake increased total housing value in the county by over $2 billion and in 2014 alone contributed $8 billion to the metro area’s GDP.

“Welcoming America congratulates Salt Lake County on its achievement of becoming the first county to become Certified Welcoming.  As consumers and investors look to take their business to places that share their values, Salt Lake County is distinguishing itself from its peers, while also living up to the values that make the community a great place to call home for everyone who lives there, including immigrants and refugees,” said Rachel Peric, Executive Director of Welcoming America.

Immigrants make significant contributions to local economies and neighborhoods across the United States, and immigrant-owned businesses employ nearly six million workers nationally. Immigrants-owned businesses also play an outsize role in revitalizing neighborhoods through entrepreneurship, reversing population decline, and homeownership.

Communities that become Certified Welcoming capitalize on the power of immigrants to energize their neighborhoods, economy, and culture. Certification builds a competitive advantage and gain access to opportunities to be recognized and share integration practices on a regional, national, and global stage.

“Immigrants play a foundational role in the economic prosperity of our state and nation and we applaud Salt Lake County for earning the distinction as the first Certified Welcoming County. This reaffirms our global reputation as a welcoming and business-friendly state and encourages other communities to follow in our footsteps. Let us always strive to be a place where people of good will can achieve the American Dream,” said Derek B. Miller, president and CEO of the Salt Lake Chamber and Downtown Alliance.

Salt Lake County, Utah completed an intensive evaluation to earn the Certified Welcoming evaluation, led by the Mayor’s Office for New Americans.  Local policies and programs were compared to  the comprehensive Welcoming Standard that covers community investments from  education to economic development to policing.

“As an immigrant from India, who moved here 18 years ago, I’ve always felt Utah to be a warm and welcoming State. It has been my experience in general that the people here are kind and supportive to immigrants and people from diverse backgrounds. There is a greater need now than ever to embrace this culture of acceptance and accommodation. After all, we are all tied together by common ideals, common goals and common culture. It makes me proud and humble that Utah’s history is now a part of my history. At Saffron Valley we celebrate the contributions of all new Americans and the assets they bring forth for the benefit of the whole community. Our hope is to have constructive conversations about shared prosperity rather than divisive arguments about immigration policy,” said Lavanya Mahate, immigrant and owner of Saffron Valley.

Originally published by Utah Pulse on June 24, 2018