Welcome to Jamestown Program aims to integrate new residents
The program is offered by the Jamestown Area Chamber of Commerce to chamber member businesses.
JAMESTOWN — Scot Loyd and his wife, Candy, moved to Jamestown in August, after he accepted a job as assistant professor of communication at the University of Jamestown.
The Loyds didn’t know anybody in Jamestown when they arrived from their previous state of Oklahoma.
But that changed through the Welcome to Jamestown Program offered by the Jamestown Area Chamber of Commerce. Two chamber ambassadors, Shirley Jackson and Jordan Padilla, came to Loyd’s office at the university bearing a “Welcome Home” floor mat and offers from chamber member businesses.
“And they were just very friendly and welcoming,” Loyd said.
Loyd said like anyone who moves to a new community, he wondered how he was going to make connections and get to know people. He said he felt more connected to Jamestown after the ambassadors visited his office.
“The idea that you have people going out of their way to make others feel welcome, coming into the community, I thought that they both represented the community very well,” he said.
Emily Bivens, executive director of the chamber, said the Welcome to Jamestown Program launched in 2022 as a way to help integrate new residents into the community and increase retention.
“Last year was the first full year of this and we were able to welcome 20 new residents through the program,” she said.
Bivens said the ambassador committee of the chamber worked on the Welcome to Jamestown Program. The ambassadors are what Bivens calls the “PR arm of the chamber,” about 30 volunteer members who attend ribbon cuttings and groundbreakings, for example.
“They help spread the good word of what the chamber does and what the chamber can do for businesses,” she said.
The Welcome to Jamestown Program is available to chamber member businesses. A chamber member business that hires a new employee reaches out to the chamber. An ambassador then schedules a time to meet with the employee, bringing a “Welcome home Jamestown, ND” floor mat and a “Welcome to Jamestown” membership card. The card is used to identify the person as a new resident who may take advantage of a variety of offers that are available from participating chamber businesses. Those offers range from a free one-year membership to The Arts Center to two movie passes or discounts on memberships or other items. There are currently 16 “welcoming gifts” from chamber member businesses, a number that Bivens noted has grown since the program launched.
Last year was the first full year of this and we were able to welcome 20 new residents through the program.
Loyd said he and his wife used those offers to learn more about the community, trying out restaurants and going to the movie.
“Otherwise, we might have just gotten in the car because we’re new and driven to Bismarck or Fargo but because we had those incentives, we had those opportunities to experience local businesses,” he said. “It gave us an opportunity to stay here and discover what opportunities and availabilities were where that we may not have done otherwise.”
The only cost to the chamber member businesses providing the offer is what they offer, Bivens noted. The person receiving the incentives through the program, which are good for a year, must be a Jamestown resident of fewer than four months who is currently employed with an active chamber member.
The Welcome to Jamestown Program made so much of an impression on Loyd that only weeks later, he became a chamber ambassador too. Now he’s attending events in the community such as ribbon cuttings and recognizing people through ambassador activities.
“It’s been rewarding,” he said. “It’s given me opportunities to meet people in the community. It’s given me opportunities to be aware of businesses that are both new that are coming to the community and … established businesses that are expanding, and it gave me opportunities and insights into the community that maybe I wouldn’t have had otherwise.”
Loyd said he feels it’s important to give something back to the community to make it a better place and recalled going with the ambassadors to recognize a Walmart employee for good work.
“I think if we do those kinds of things in the communities in which we live that it accumulates and over time it just makes the place better,” he said. “We can choose to look at the world negatively or positively and there’s a lot of negative things going on so it’s good to have avenues to celebrate the positives.”
Chamber businesses looking to welcome a new employee through the program may go to the chamber website at jamestownchamber.com and click on the Welcome to Jamestown link at the bottom of the page and provide the necessary information.
“I just encourage people that haven’t had the opportunity or haven’t availed themselves of the opportunity to get involved in their community that they are out there and the chamber and the ambassadors provide a wonderful opportunity to do so,” Loyd said.