Cedar Rapids launches ‘Welcome is Our Language’ campaign to promote inclusion to visitors, residents


HR King
May 29, 2001
A new campaign aims to tell Cedar Rapids residents and visitors they are welcome in Iowa’s second-largest city, no matter who they are.

The city of Cedar Rapids and the Cedar Rapids Tourism Office this week launched a “Welcome is Our Language” campaign to celebrate the city’s entrepreneurial, inclusive spirit over centuries and all the assets that make it a draw for people to come and stay here, whether for a day or for a lifetime.

The campaign stems from 2018, when the city and other community partners began participating in Welcoming Week in Cedar Rapids. As this work evolved, the group identified a need to highlight Cedar Rapids as an inclusive and welcoming community.


“It's important to note that we want to welcome new people to our community, but I think it's also important to know for the people who are here that all are welcome,” Mayor Tiffany O’Donnell said. “We've seen that we all don't look the same. We come from very different places, backgrounds, histories.”

The Welcome is Our Language message aims to stir local pride in the community and relay to visitors, prospective residents, employees and businesses that Cedar Rapids invites new ideas, diversity and inclusion while celebrating its roots. The campaign uses photos and videos to showcase the diversity of the people and places that make up the community.

The community-centered campaign is not exclusive to a specific organization or entity. Videos and materials are open for use by Cedar Rapids organizations to community pride and connections, by local businesses to help recruit employees and the Tourism Office to market the city to visitors and convention organizers.

In 2018, the City and other community partners began participating in and promoting Welcoming Week in Cedar Rapids. As discussions and work evolved around Welcoming Week, the group identified a need in the community to encourage and highlight Cedar Rapids as an inclusive and welcoming community.

The campaign celebrates the city’s heritage and the residents and visitors of today — its Czech roots and modern tech entrepreneurs who have all contributed to a vibrant Cedar Rapids.

It also highlights the many places that shape the city’s identity, such as the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library and African American Museum of Iowa that help connect the past and present, and core neighborhoods such as Czech Village, New Bohemia and Kingston Village that offer a variety of small businesses, restaurants and entertainment.

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City Manager Jeff Pomeranz said the message was key to promoting Cedar Rapids’ growth and development.

“No matter who you are and you want to be part of our community, or have you been here for 50 years or more, we want to embrace each other, we want to support each other, we want to welcome each other to our great community and watch Cedar Rapids grow and develop,” Pomeranz said.

O’Donnell said she’s seen in her first several months as mayor that the city has been intentional about ensuring everyone has a place here, such as by issuing a proclamation when the city’s only LGBTQ bar, Belle’s Basix on First Avenue SE, closed and quickly reopened as Basix under new ownership earlier this year.

Julie Stow, the associate executive director of the Cedar Rapids Tourism Office, said when she holds tourism meetings with different visitors, the city’s venues and attractions are not the only key component to its success.

“Why they choose Cedar Rapids is because of its residents,” Stow said. “They always say it's the people that they meet.”

Stow said people will start to see the “Welcome is Our Language” message appear in places such as The Eastern Iowa Airport and the Cedar Rapids Public Library.

More information and materials are available at CityofCR.com/welcome.