How the 1985 Hormel strike changed Austin, Minn.

This week marks the 11th anniversary of Jose Carrazco owning his own business. But he says West Oakland Auto Repair may not have come about if he hadn't moved to Minnesota for another job.

"We have always felt welcome. Austin has always been a great place to live," said Corrazco.

Corrazco relocated to Austin from Mexico in 1999 to work at Quality Pork Processing, which supplies Hormel next door.

But he always enjoyed fixing cars on the side and eventually, he decided to leave to strike out on his own.

"It was a good job. They did a lot to help me out at that time. I worked there for a few years and for me, it was a fun place to work at," said Corrazco.

Carrazco is part of the changing face of Austin over the last 30 years or so.

A local labor historian says when Hormel workers went on strike in the mid-80s, only two were people of color and all the replacement workers that were hired to end the strike were caucasian.

But most of them quit over the next five years because of the hard work and low wages and Hormel started recruiting workers from Mexico and Central America.

Since then, word of jobs at Hormel has spread to African immigrants coming to the U.S. and now about a quarter of Austin's population are people of color.

"The strike began a series of developments that ultimately led to a profound transformation of the demographics of Austin," said Macalester College professor Peter Rachleff.

Corrazco says he sees more people who look like him around town now than when he moved here and that makes him happy to call Austin home.

"I think it's great to have diversity, to have more minorities," said Corrazco.