Novotny is looking to enhance Austin

Published 3:59 pm Tuesday, July 2, 2024

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You’re not likely to find Nick Novotny idle for very long. Impact Austin’s new Director of Community Engagement and Enhancement likes to be on the move, tackling projects and exploring new opportunities.

He’s bringing that energy to the position during a busy time in Austin that sees both the City of Austin and Mower County beginning to work side-by-side in developing a comprehensive plan not only for both, but that also crosses over in a way that benefits both.

“It’s really cool to see the community come together and get excited about something,” Novotny said last week from within the Launch professional workspace. “How to improve your community and how do you do it as a community. That’s always been the fire that keeps things going.”

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Novotny came to the position in April and hit the ground running, something he had grown used to in the years leading up to his new job.

Hailing originally from a suburb of Chicago, Novotny eventually made his way to Winona where he went to college for four years at St. Mary’s University of Winona. After that he moved to Rochester where he lives today with his wife and their dog.

However, it wasn’t just a matter of moving from there to here. Along the way Novotny became involved in a number of avenues, including starting and owning his own music festival.

Rochester Thaw is a 30-band, six stage music festival held in March that Novotny began in 2019. Since then, he has joined with the music promotional company My Town, My Music where he is a co-owner.

That’s only one side of his musical contributions as he plays drums for the roots rock group Clay Fulton & the Lost Forty as well as the blues rock band, Teeth.

Along the way he plays some disc golf, takes walks with the family and has even spent time brewing beer with Little Thistle Brewing in Rochester.

“Much to my wife’s chagrin sometimes, I have to be a very go kind of guy,” Novotny joked. “Me on vacation is a little strange. There’s a part of being busy that keeps my mind busy, which is good.”

So it’s probably not much of a leap then to understand why the Impact Austin position appealed to Novotny, who was looking for a change of pace.

Having lived in the area for some years now, Novotny was aware of Austin, but it took coming into the community to understand just how many opportunities there were. He wants to be the voice that gets the word out to others.

“Just to be a general champion and cheerleader for all things Austin,” he said, adding: “That’s what has been so intriguing about the Impact Austin position. There’s a lot of incredible resources here. People that are involved and invested in the community. How do you channel that in a way to get Austin excited about Austin?”

That’s where his background of being involved in community events is likely to come into play, as well as simply being a fresh set of eyes that’s not used to the things already within the community.

He said it’s changed the very way he looks at the community.

“My perception of Austin before I got here was completely different from what I thought it was,” Novotny admitted. “That part has been the most exciting thing to learn. Getting here and starting to meet people and learn more about the community. There are so many things here that people don’t know about. It’s trying to figure out different ways to take what’s here and shout it to the hilltops in a thousand different directions.”

As part of this work, Novotny will look at expanding the groundwork that’s already been laid in order to enhance Austin and that will include work with the comprehensive plan.

“It’s going to be looking at what’s here, what do we want for the future, what’s coming down the pipeline,” he said. “You have all of these massive opportunities where Austin can tee itself up to be even more welcoming.”

It’s been a challenge, Novotny conceded, as he had to hit the ground running, but he also added that’s been worth it and as he moves forward Novotny said he will continue learning about what makes Austin special.

“Continuing to learn more about that community and the people that are here and more about what is happening,” he said. “I’m continuing to learn.”