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'Diversity, equity, and inclusion': Downtown Holland to hire consultant to make area more welcoming

"We really want to take this opportunity to learn and grow," she added, "and find someone that can walk on this journey with us."

HOLLAND, Mich. — Diversity, equity and inclusion. Three words that are now becoming part of the conversation. 

More and more places are also hiring positions with the sole focus on making sure those three words are addressed.

Downtown Holland is the latest group to integrate an expert on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) into their team. They say it's all part of a plan to make sure everyone feels comfortable downtown. 

"In order to really make progress in our efforts, we really need to engage with an expert," said Kara de Alvare, Marketing Coordinator for Downtown Holland.

"And that's why we're looking to hire a DEI consultant," she added.

For years, Downtown Holland has gone through research, focus groups, and discussions to learn more about how the community feels about the diversity and inclusion of the area.

What they found is that not everyone feels so comfortable.

"One thing we've heard is that some people don't feel welcome downtown because there's not people that look like them or dress like them, or that are in the same relationships as them," said de Alvare.

"We really want to take this opportunity to learn and grow," she added, "and find someone that can walk on this journey with us."

But Ottawa County is no stranger to these kinds of practices. 

In 2019, the county added a Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Office

Last month, the City of Zeeland's Personnel Committee gave support to a non-binding memorandum of understanding with Ottawa County DEI office to help promote those values in their community.

And in January, Holland Public Schools hired Taran McZee as the district's Director of Equity and Inclusion.

"Seeing the events that have been happening in our nation, it's just not something that you can ignore or pretend is not a problem in your community," said de Alvare.

Downtown Holland wants to add its name to the list of places working to be more inclusive, and they hope this new team member will help them do just that.

"It's something that you need to address if you're serious about wanting everyone to feel welcome and safe and comfortable," said de Alvare.

The position is now open and the organization will be taking applications until the end of June. 

"Downtown Holland is the heart of the city, and we've got great shops, restaurants, and great local businesses," de Alvare said, "and we want everyone to be able to come enjoy themselves and feel welcome and take advantage of what downtown has to offer."

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