Grant to help immigrant workers and entrepreneurs of color topic of meeting tonight

Published 9:52 am Thursday, September 23, 2010

Speak out at tonight’s Community Growth Initiative event at El Parral Ballroom, and the southern part of the state could benefit.

Riverland Community College and the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation are partnering in awarding grant money to efforts that help immigrant workers and entrepreneurs of color succeed in the community.

To that end, a town hall type meeting will be held tonight from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the El Parral Ballroom, where community members can brainstorm what projects and needs that would benefit community workers and businesses of color.

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Up to $15,000 will be awarded by the foundation and Riverland for up to three projects that would fit with the community, would financially benefit Austin, and would be sustainable after the grant money ran out.

“We need to find out what we can do to make them more successful in the workplace,” said Peggy Young, a training and development coordinator at Riverland.

The meeting is the culmination of about 10 months’ worth of planning, with about 20 community leaders spreading the word to the community through word of mouth. Young is quick to point out that the event does not deal with immigration reform or take a political stance in any way. Rather, it is being held to determine what kind of projects can help the community.

Similar talks will be held at Riverland locations in Albert Lea and Owatonna in coming weeks. Ideas from each of these locations could form a large project that could be duplicated in each town, benefiting all three communities, according to Young.

Young said the event is open to everyone, with interpreters and child care on site to help parents make it out.