New position aims to diversify Dubuque - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

New position aims to diversify Dubuque

By Lauren Squires

DUBUQUE (KWWL) -- For decades, Dubuque has struggled with diversity -- falling below state averages. As of the 2006 census, minorities accounted for less than 4 percent of Dubuque's population. Below the state's still-small average of more than 6 percent.

Blacks, in particular, make-up a little more than 1 percent of Dubuque. A little more than half the state's 2.1 percent. The city of Dubuque created a new position aimed at diversifying Dubuque's demographics.

Welcome. In at least eight different languages, outside the Dubuque Family Multicultural center, a sign illustrates something Dubuque's been striving to achieve.

"Our family center is really trying to look at being more welcoming to the community and we need those individuals for economic development," said interim director Beverly Berna.

The multicultural Center is just one sign of the changes in Dubuque's growing melting pot. Which is why the city hired someone to fill a new position.

"One of the issues that we've been working with for many years is to improve the diversity in our workforce," said Randy Peck, Director of Personnel in Dubuque.

January 1st, the city approved funding for a training and workforce development coordinator. This week, the city hired Andre Lessears. He'll be responsible for recruiting and training a more diverse workforce.

"He's currently involved in training and writing in the area of diversity and intercultural competency. He has been involved in recruiting efforts," said Peck.

But with his background in women's and African American history, the Multicultural Center says he'll bring more than his job description.

"It's about the people and if we look at economic development, one of the important things is we have to rate in our workforce and in that we've got to be welcoming into the community, welcome them into their business and their families to have got to be welcomed," said Berna.

Striving to welcome diversity, beyond center's like this, and into Dubuque's workforce.

Online reporter: Lauren Squires

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