It’s official! Hello, Range has been accepted into the Welcoming America Rural Welcoming Initiative!
The Welcoming Network is a global network of local governments and nonprofits committed to making communities more welcoming. Led by the nonpartisan nonprofit organization, Welcoming America, Hello, Range! will have access to research, technical assistance, webinars, and collaborative programs with other Welcoming Network organizations.
Why does this matter?
Hello, Range! is committed to recruiting and retaining residents and workforce to the Iron Range. Population trends from the US Census show that we are losing population in our Range cities. But not all rural places are. Counties in the middle-west part of Minnesota GAINED population between 2010-2020. Why are people moving there?
It used to be that folks moved where the jobs were. While that is still true, that is no longer the only consideration for people moving into an area. And we need workforce! We have the jobs. Per Carson Gorecki of MN DEED, we had 4,300 job openings in 2022 in St. Louis County minus Duluth. This is a startling number of vacancies. We want to fill them–NEED to fill them–and in the process, bolster our communities, schools, and amenities.
Being welcoming and inclusive starts from the heart, truly wanting to invite folks into our world. But the best ways to do this on a regional level are not clear. How does the Range help folks find the housing, food, connections and culture that will help them transition into New Iron Rangers?
That is what we aim to find out.
Stay tuned for more on our journey. This week we have our first virtual meeting with our cohort. In August we travel to Dallas, Texas for a conference (funded through a grant).
The Iron Range has a history starting with Indigenous peoples, followed by immigrants. The Iron Range was built by these folks. Time and the economy has melded us into a unique, gritty culture… and they are showing us that, for the Range to succeed, we need folks to move to the Mesabi again.
I hope you will join us in our efforts to keep the Iron Range vibrant. Support Hello, Range! and the new folks who are calling our region home.