Council votes to join welcome group

Published 10:35 am Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Austin is officially joining a group to help its efforts to welcome minority and immigrant populations.

The Austin City Council voted 6-0 Monday with David Hagen absent to join Welcoming America.

Welcoming America is an Atlanta, Georgia-based membership program of about 75 to 100 members offering tools, resources, webinars and toolkits from other communities who have tried and had success with becoming a more welcoming community.

Email newsletter signup

Existing programs like Apex Austin and the Human Rights Commission supported the idea of joining the program, and City Administrator Craig Clark called it a way to provide resources through existing channels without reinventing the wheel.



“It seemed like a natural opportunity for us to enhance their efforts,” Clark said.

Clark heard about the program from the Southeast Minnesota Together group, which is an organization that looks at workforce shortages and who wanted to make southeast Minnesota a more welcoming region.

The city can choose from several different methods to participate in, and Austin can participate in events like National Welcoming Week.

Austin is one of the first few cities in Minnesota to seek membership. Winona joined in June.

“Winona heard about it and snuck in ahead of us,” Mayor Tom Stiehm said.