SALT LAKE CITY (News4Utah) – As the debate over immigration divides the country, one Utah county is being recognized for its approach to helping immigrants succeed.
Salt Lake County has been certified by a national organization for its inclusive approach to immigrants in the community and economy.
It’s the first county in the entire country to achieve this distinction.
Lavanya Mahate came to the United States 18 years ago. Since then, she has earned a masters degree from the University of Utah and has started multiple food service businesses, including Saffron Valley.
She says immigrants come to America with a dream, high hopes and willingness to work hard.
“But, all that is really irrelevant if you don’t feel welcome in a community. Which was the first thing I felt in Utah, in Salt Lake County, Salt Lake City, because everybody by nature are kind and accommodating,” said Mahate.
She says that atmosphere created a strong foundation for her to find success.
Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams says a welcoming spirit goes back to the roots of our state.
“Utah has long been a state where we rolled up our sleeves and come together. Where we work through our differences and find out strengths and we work for solutions that will bring us together,” said McAdams.
Others are taking note of that. Following a year-long certification process, Salt Lake County has been designated as a Certified Welcoming county by Welcoming America.
The status recognizes the counties efforts to provide opportunities for residents of all backgrounds.
“It’s important to our community, it’s important because of our culture, it’s important because of our economy, but mostly, it’s important because this is the kind of place we want to be,” said Salt Lake Chamber President and CEO Derek Miller.
Mahate says that’s more important now than ever before.
“I think if we grow, everybody grows and it just creates such a great vibrant community,” she said.
The Certified Welcoming designation is good for three years. It will expire in June, 2021.