BILLINGS — The Billings Chamber of Commerce unveiled a new campaign Tuesday aimed at keeping people from moving out of the city and showing that Billings has something for everyone.
Montana is now the top relocation destination in the country, according to one report, and Billings is attracting many new residents. According to the chamber of commerce, four people move to Billings for every one who leaves the city. However, not everyone stays long-term.
"People get here, and they're attracted to the outdoor amenities and the quick access to parks and trails and what not. But when they get to Billings, they’re just not feeling like they’re really a part of things, and we want to help foster that," said Julie Seedhouse, chair of the chamber board of directors.
The "You Belong in Billings" campaign is designed to help residents feel more connected to their community and embrace a diverse culture.
"We want to find a way for people to connect, to find their scene if you will. Provide a resource for interests and volunteerism and what kind of businesses they want to frequent so we’re looking to be that base resource for people who are new here. But also people that have lived here for a long time who just might not know some of the really cool things about Billings," said Seedhouse.
Two of Billings' largest employers, St. Vincent Healthcare and Billings Clinic, are a part of the effort.
"We’re always focused on having the talent join our organization, and if it means a good mix of diversity in our workforce, we’re even happier. So, what do we need to do to recruit diversity to come to Billings? That’s the question that we’re all trying to answer," said Krikor Jansezian, the COO of St. Vincent Healthcare.
Diversity is important to Billings Clinic as well, and the hospital says it's making an effort to encourage community involvement, including reworking its dress code to be more inclusive.
"Our employees are our number one resource. And making sure they feel a sense of belonging in this community is invaluable. It helps our organization thrive, it helps patients feel more comfortable and it gives that employee satisfaction which is the number one thing," said Nichole Mehling, director of marketing and strategic advancement for Billings Clinic.
Connecting residents with their community is key for Billings businesses. Many are on the front lines when it comes to people leaving town because they are losing valuable employees.
"We have restaurants that are open only for lunch or only for dinner because they can’t fully staff their businesses and we have stores that can’t be open their normal hours because they don’t have people to work there. We're trying to shine a light on the diversity that Billings does have, and also sending a message to other communities where people are looking to come here that they can come here and feel welcome and find people that look like them and believe like them and want to do the things that they do. So, that’s one of our efforts but it really is that we’re launching and creating that resource to help people find their place," added Seedhouse.