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Fargo aims to increase community, minority outreach with new city jobs

The city of Fargo is looking to increase community outreach, especially for minority residents, by creating two new positions.

Tyler Fischbach.jpg
The City of Fargo's newly created position of Community Engagement Manager has been filled by Tyler Fischbach, who for nearly the past five years has worked for the Fargo West Fargo Moorhead Chamber of Commerce. He stands here in City Hall in front of a photo of downtown. Barry Amundson / The Forum
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FARGO — Fargo city government is making an effort to listen more, communicate better and be more inclusive.

To that end, the city has hired a community engagement manager and early next year will employ a director of diversity, equity and inclusion.

"We want to take City Hall to the people," said Gregg Schildberger, director of communications for the city.

He believes they do a great job providing services such as snow removal, water and road improvement to residents, but "the heart and spirit of the city is just as important."

"We want that to be strong, too," he said.

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Schildberger said city government is here to serve residents, but they "want more interaction to see what we can do to improve."

That'll be the core mission of the two new jobs.

The community engagement position was filled this week by Tyler Fischbach, who previously did similar work for the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber of Commerce.

The South St. Paul native moved to the area in 2010 to attend Minnesota State University Moorhead and said he never considered going back as he wants to "give back" to this city that has been good to him for the past decade.

"We want to work on expanding our interwovenness," he said.

Schildberger said the communications department, of which Fischbach is a part, will be separate from the diversity position, but they plan to work closely together.

Although the city's Native American Commission, Human Relations Commission and City Commission are still working on providing input on the diversity position job description, Schildberger said the person will work internally to see if policy changes are needed to make the city more inclusive and work externally to engage with people and minority groups who maybe have never had interaction with the city.

The job will be advertised in late December and January with a city selection committee helping city commissioners in picking a director in February.

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Local Black Lives Matter leader Faith Dixon said she's "super excited" about the opportunity to have such a person in the city.

"We have a lot of growing to do," she said about racial issues in the city, "but I believe it's a step in the right direction."

She hopes "the right person" is selected and believes it should be someone "who has had diversity in their lives who understands the concerns and issues" of people of color.

Creating the job, she said, "shows the city is making at least an attempt to address issues and systematic discrimination."

The job will be advertised nationwide, as was the engagement position.

Fischbach was one of 44 applicants for his position that pays a salary of $63,461, but it was his work with the Chamber of Commerce that impressed city leaders.

In engaging the community, Fischbach said, he'll be doing the little and big things. It could be as little as designing a poster to show people how to wash their hands better, or it could be something as big as assisting in a city emergency.

He will work on improving the city's website that had 2.65 million pageviews in the past year and 641,000 unique users.

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He will also work with the NextDoor app, a tool about 50% of city residents to communicate about issues in their neighborhoods. The Cass Clay Alerts emergency notification system and the FargoOne system where residents can report problems such as potholes on the website will also fall under Fischbach's purview.

Schildberger said they want Fischbach to not only help listen to ideas and communicate with residents, but also to help make sure more people know about emergencies and other city matters.

One example could be ensuring residents are notified when a snow removal emergency is declared for more than 4 inches of snow. He could help narrow down notifications and even tell neighborhoods what time they need to remove their vehicles from the street.

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