One of Vision 2020's main goals is to help create a "business friendly" environment in Austin.  This committee benefits from the participation of a wide range of professionals and local economic development experts, and is proud to support and promote the work of the many great organizations in Austin working toward similar goals.  Special thanks are due to the Austin Area Chamber of Commerce, the Development Corporation of Austin, the Small Business Development Center, the Latino Economic Development Center, the City of Austin and the Austin Port Authority.  Other support has been generously provided by The Hormel Foundation, the Southern Minnesota Initiative Foundation, Hormel Foods, and Mayo Clinic Health Systems - Albert Lea/Austin.

Past accomplishments

  • Established the Community Concierge to help improve employee attraction and retention rates.  The Concierge provides many services to help new and prospective residents plug in to the community
  • Created a satellite office of the Small Business Development Center in Austin, which provides free consulting services and other help for both new and existing businesses
  • Supported the sale of the former Oak Park Mall site to make way for development of a new Hy-Vee grocery store and other potential amenities
  • Initiated a community conversation around workforce housing, which culminated in numerous policy recommendations from an ad hoc committee organized by Mayor Tom Stiehm
  • Created the Austin Area Business Forum, a regular lunch-time gathering that features expert presenters and valuable networking time for aspiring and current business owners

Current objectives

  • Encourage local government bodies to adopt development-friendly policies that will increase the quantity and quality of available workforce housing
  • Work with the City of Austin to develop a strong package of policy incentives to attract entrepreneurs and encourage small business growth
  • Develop an "innovation competition" to provide support and encouragement for entrepreneurs to pursue their business ideas in Austin

Future goals

  • Position Austin as a hub for quality jobs and innovation in order to combat brain drain and attract more young families and professionals to town
  • Develop small business incubators to provide space and support for emerging enterprises, especially in the areas of agricultural science, food science, and bio-medical research
  • Encourage and promote further development along the 18th Ave. retail corridor, capitalizing on the work with the new Hy-Vee