Archived Story

Community concierge to help newcomers adjust, stay in Austin

Published 4:32pm Saturday, December 14, 2013

There will soon be a new service in Austin dedicated to helping newcomers acclimate and enjoy what the town has to offer. Officials hope it will also keep professionals in town, and reduce commuting.

The Austin Area Chamber of Commerce will lead an effort called AustinWorks, which will feature a community concierge, a comprehensive website and educational services for professionals and their families who have recently moved to town.

AustinWorks, created by Vision 2020 and funded by The Hormel Foundation, Hormel Foods Corp. and Mayo Clinic Health System — Albert Lea and Austin, should be begin work in January or February 2014, according to Chamber Executive Director Sandy Forstner.

“We not only want them to work here, but we want them to live here,” Forstner said. “The idea is to grow the community by getting more people to choose Austin as their place to live, work and play.”

According to Forstner, Austin employers have said one of the biggest challenges to hiring skilled employees is selling them on living in Austin. So, the first phase will be to hire a community concierge, who will provide tours, human resources services, fast tracking employment for spouses, information on housing and local entertainment, and coordination with volunteers to serve as mentors, among many other services. The concierge will be available to all employers with new workers, Forstner said, but will focus on major employers and skilled employees.

“The workforce is a growing concern and will continue to be for businesses,” he said. “There are expanding businesses across the state and region, and a lot of competition. Competition is not just company to company, job to job, but community to community.”

Forstner said the ripple effect of more professionals in town would be tremendous, as they and their family members need housing, will buy groceries, shop retail, eat at restaurants, and enroll their children in local schools.

Forstner said they’re are looking for more business partners, and have begun the hiring process for the concierge. Call him at 507-437-4561 for more information.

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