Our beautiful red rock country has many amazing reasons to visit us here in Southern Utah. We have incredible scenery, worldclass and well-organized events; friendly residents; state-of-the-art medical facilities; a rapidly growing university; golf, golf, and more golf; and, your choice of Broadway quality arts and entertainment. Our crime rate is 34% below the national average making us safer than 61% of U. S. cities. What we don’t have – although its gradually changing – is a lot of diversity in our population.
The St. George area is 91.13% caucasian. Less than 10% are Spanish speakers with .59% African-Americans and .78% Asian. Eight hundred and twelve are Native American and about 500 are Pacific Islanders. There is a large Catholic congregation and a small, but growing Jewish population as well as representatives of the LGBT commumity. In short, we have a little bit of everything, just not in large numbers.
There is a one identifiable reason why this situation exists – and three distinct reasons why its changing.
The area’s predominant religion – The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (aka “Mormon”) – was first recognized in April 1830. A short time later, missionary efforts began in earnest, primarily in the United Kingdom where most early converts were caucasian. In a period of less than two decades, the LDS Church had grown from 6 to about 30,000 members … most who left their homeland, soon after baptism, to travel to the Utah Territory. They were followed closely by large numbers of Irish and Swiss settlers. Although the first destination for the Valley of the Great Salt Lake, Church President Brigham Young began an ambitioius effort to colonize the Western frontier – including settlements in St. George, Santa Clara and Washington City. Without air conditioning and freeway access to this beautiful part of the world, few people had any interest in living here.
But, my oh my, how things are changing!
The LDS Church’s robust missionary program has resulted in hundreds of thousands of converts, many who – like the early Saints before them – want to live in the heartland of their church. As a result, “transplants” from Central and South America, the Philippines, parts of Asia, Samoa, Fiji, the Pacific Islands and elsewhere have found their way to Southern Utah where they can practice their religion freely. A wonderful side benefit of Church growth is the surprising resource of languages spoken here.
The second reason we are seeing a change to our diversity, is Dixie Regional Medical Center. This large, regional medical community is always looking for nurses, technicians, housekeepers, cooks and specialists of all kinds to meet the growing needs of patients. These medical people come from near and far, bringing not only their expertise but their family, friends and culture with them.
Finally, Dixie State University, with its rapidly growing campus and amazing and diverse faculty, is also beckoning to students from every nation to study for 147 certificates or degree programs, including education, science and technology, health sciences, arts, business and communications, humanities and social science … all attractive to students of varying nationalities and countries of origin.
And if, in addition to looking for a place to fit in, you’re also searching for a comfortable, affordable vacation home-away-from-home you’ll find what you’re looking for online at St. George Resort Rentals or Five Seasons Vacation condominiums. Register today at www.stgeorgeresortrentals.com or www.laspalmasresortcondos.com. We think you’re going to like us … a lot!