Rochester is growing more diverse - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Rochester is growing more diverse

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Rochester is the third largest and fastest growing city in Minnesota. It's also growing more and more diverse.

In 1980 Rochester's minority population was 2.6%. According to the 2010 census, we now have a minority population of 21%.

There was a time when you would be hard pressed to find many people of color in Rochester.

Rochester Planning Department's Phil Wheeler says, "We are a magnet for immigration."

Now, more than 20 percent of residents are minority and more than 1 in 10 Rochester residents were born outside of the U.S.

Wheeler explains, "We've gone from a town in which seeing someone with brown hair and brown eyes, I'm exaggerating, was unusual to a town in which we have a much broader range of people. At the same time that we've done this we haven't become a segregated community."

In the 2010-2011 school year, 22% of Rochester public school students spoke a combined total of 63 languages other than English in the home.

Rochester Mayor Ardell Brede says, "We welcome all the diversity that we have. I think it just makes us a much richer community."

But like any change, it's not always easy. Mayor Ardell Brede himself grew up in an area that had little diversity.

Mayor Brede says "I can understand where some of that, where if you've grown up where everyone looks like us, that may be a little uncomfortable at first but I would just say reach out, get to know them.

The minority population may now account for more than 20 percent of the population but the crime rate peaked in 1982 when the minority population was closer to 3%.

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