Business appears to be booming in Dubuque. Unemployment has been lower in Dubuque than nationally for years, with July of this year logging a 4.9 percent unemployment rate. The September financial reports indicate that the city has brought in a surplus of revenues. Loras has brought in more incoming students than in the last several years. The city is also a hub for major companies such as John Deere, IBM, and Sears. And these are just a few of the many reasons to believe that Dubuque is doing well as a city.
However, there are still some issues that need to be addressed by the community. Dubuque made headlines earlier this year when the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development accused Dubuque of racism due to the city’s handling of housing vouchers. Incidents such as this raise the question of what can be done to make the city better.
There is one initiative which is looking to make this difference. “Inclusive Dubuque” was launched last month by the city to improve the interconnectedness of Dubuque. Jessica Rose, director of strategic initiatives for the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque; Nikola Pavelic, Community Engagement Coordinator who works for the City of Dubuque; and Kelly Larson, the Human Rights Director for the City of Dubuque, are among the many who are working to make Inclusive Dubuque a reality.
“Inclusive Dubuque is an effort to reach out into the community, and try to address the gaps that are happening in Dubuque,” said Larson.
Although the initiative is still in its beginning phases, the vision of the initiative is clear.
“The goal is to try and achieve a high quality of life, and establishing that through major touch points,” said Pavelic. .
Inclusive Dubuque is including input from at least 25 different organizations who are mission partners for the initiative. The emphasis includes getting businesses, and particularly the city, involved. Higher education also plays a part in the initiative, with it drawing from Loras, NICC, University of Dubuque, UW-Platteville and Clarke University.
Through their efforts, Inclusive Dubuque will aim to connect the different groups within the city and also try to be more open to newcomers, in efforts to increase the retention of newcomers and to bring diversity to the city.
The City Council of Dubuque has been supportive of this initiative, with Mayor Roy D. Buol giving the opening speech for the launch of Inclusive Dubuque.
On Loras’ part, a major participant is Sue Hafkemeyer, director of marketing and communications at Loras. She sees this initiative as something which can ultimately benefit students.
“There will be an effort for the city to be seen as welcoming, which will help students stay here since they provide the future workforce,” said Hafkemeyer.
Some ways that Dubuque has worked with Loras so far include the mayor signing letters to first-year Loras students and Loras working with businesses in Dubuque such as IBM. Hafkemeyer also noted that President Jim Collins is incredibly involved with Inclusive Dubuque as well.
It’s hard to tell how Inclusive Dubuque will unfold, but there is widespread hard work being done to keep this moving forward. Expect to see more about this in the future.