Three community organizations have combined to launch an initiative to attract and retain new residents to Champaign County through a welcoming environment and a sense of belonging.
The Chambana Welcome Crew is a network of a dozen “community ambassadors” with a range of backgrounds, demographics and experiences. The program will match newcomers to Champaign County with ambassadors based on their interests to facilitate life in their new home.
The campaign is a collaboration between Visit Champaign County, the Champaign County Economic Development Corporation and the Dual Career Program at the University of Illinois.
“Recruiting and retaining talent is a top priority for cities across the country,” said Carly McCrory-McKay, executive director of the Champaign County Economic Development Corporation. “For several years our organizations have partnered with our local employers to provide resources to attract talent to our community, and the Chambana Welcome Crew is the next step to ensure these recruits land here in the Champaign-Urbana area.”
The program will be open to any residents that moved to Champaign County since early 2020 and to anyone considering a move to the area.
“We anticipate that our local employers will rely heavily on our ambassadors to help share their living and working experiences, so they can see what life here will be like beyond their career,” McCrory-McKay said.
Ambassadors will connect with their recruits to serve as a “first friend” in the community, helping find the resources they need to settle here.
The Chambana Welcome Crew will continue to add new ambassadors regularly to meet the demand in the community. Community members that are passionate about the area that want to serve in an ambassador capacity are encouraged to apply at the website. The organizers of the program are seeking a diverse group from all races, ethnicities, sexual orientations, religions, and stages of life.
“It’s important that our ambassadors look like our community—an international destination that is welcome to all,” said Terri Reifsteck, vice president of marketing and community engagement for Visit Champaign County.
For more information on the Chambana Welcome Crew and how to be involved or request an ambassador, click here.