The Mason City Chamber of Commerce is launching an initiative designed to promote inclusivity in north-central Iowa.

The Building CommUNITY program — with “unity” capitalized — features billboards and a new mural carrying the message. Chamber president and CEO Robin Anderson says with more non-white people coming to the area, inclusion is an important issue in the region.

“Inclusion is everybody’s job,” Anderson says. “It’s not just being inclusive at work, it’s being inclusive on your ball team, it’s being inclusive at the municipal band level. We just want to be known as the most welcoming community that there is.”

Anderson says it’s important for employers to show north-central Iowa is a welcoming place to be.
“With workforce attraction retention our most critical community need, we need to make sure that we are a welcoming community to all types of people,” she says. “We’re really positioning diversity, equity and inclusion as a workforce attraction and retention strategy.”

Work got underway on advertising the program right away, since bicyclists from across the country will be arriving in Mason City later this month. “Knowing that we are going to have thousands of people in our community for RAGBRAI, we wanted to make sure that the mural and the billboards were up to demonstrate to those people that, ‘Hey, this seems like a pretty cool town.’ We have lots of jobs they could choose from.”

Anderson is inviting all chamber employers to go through steps to become a certified inclusive employer. That includes providing them with a marketing package so they can market themselves to prospective employees as an inclusive employer.

According to the 2020 U.S. Census, the diversity of Mason City’s population stands at 93.17% white compared to 94.3% in the 2010 census.

(By Bob Fisher, KRIB, Mason City)