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Celebrating 5 years of progress in Austin

As I sit down to write this column, I’m still overwhelmed by a number of emotions following Vision 2020’s fifth anniversary open house on Thursday.  For one, the amount of excitement and joy I saw among those who attended was infectious.  Over a hundred people packed the Spam Museum to help us celebrate five years of progress in our community, and it’s heartening to still see so much energy and momentum behind the idea that Austin can be a better place for everyone.

Additionally, I feel an immense sense of gratitude for all of the people that have made this work possible.  Although I’ve only been in this position for a portion of Vision 2020’s history, my appreciation grows daily for all of the volunteers and community leaders that are making a difference throughout Austin.

I’d like to single out a few organizations for their steadfast support of our work and their commitment to making Austin a better place for everyone: The Hormel Foundation, the City of Austin, Mayo Clinic Health System, the Austin Area Chamber of Commerce, and the Development Corporation of Austin.  We simply couldn’t do what we do without them!

Beyond these five, it’s incredible to see how wide of a net the Vision 2020 process has cast throughout the community.  Countless other organizations and agencies have contributed to our volunteers’ efforts, and herein lies the ultimate benefit of Vision 2020’s work.  We do not have the tools or resources to accomplish anything by ourselves, so it is only through these collaborative efforts that we can make a difference for Austin.  It is these relationships that will help sustain this work well into the future.

So thanks are also due, in no particular order, to the following partners for their contributions to Vision 2020 over the years: Austin Public Schools, Riverland Community College, Austin Aspires, Mower County, the Cedar River Watershed District, Discover Austin, the Austin Area Commission for the Arts, the Austin Area Foundation, United Way of Mower County, Habitat for Humanity Freeborn/Mower, Mower Refreshed, Austin Utilities, the YMCA of Austin, Hormel Foods, Quality Pork Processors, the Austin Housing and Redevelopment Authority, the Statewide Health Improvement Partnership, Mower Refreshed, the Hormel Institute, the Hormel Historic Home, the Blandin Foundation, and the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation.

I’m certain I’ve missed at least a few others, but please know that your work and support is not taken for granted.  This goes especially for the hundreds of community volunteers that have given their time, talent, and treasure to making Austin a better place, one day at a time.

The improvements Austin has seen in the last five years are extraordinary.  Whether it comes to recreation, education, community service, the arts, and everything in between, our community and economy is in a much stronger position to grow and thrive into the future.  There is, however, as anyone would tell you, still much work yet to be done.  We hope you’ll join us and be a part of Austin’s ongoing transformation.