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DEED Partners with MnSCU to Expand Opportunities for Workers

Grants will train more than 4,290 workers of 18 businesses statewide

March 14, 2014

Madeline Koch, 651-259-7236

ST. PAUL – The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development awarded nearly $3.3 million in grants to Minnesota State Colleges and Universities to train 4,294 current and new employees of 18 businesses.   

The grants were awarded under the agency’s Minnesota Job Skills Partnership Program. The program works strategically with both businesses and educational institutions to train or retrain workers, expand work opportunities and keep high-quality jobs in the state. In this grant round, the program leveraged about $8.9 million from partners.  

“Since its inception in 1983, the Minnesota Job Skills Partnership Program has helped more than 260,000 Minnesota workers gain new skills through customized training,” said DEED Commissioner Katie Clark Sieben. “In addition to the investment in our workforce, the Minnesota Job Skills Partnership Program also increases the long-term success of participating businesses statewide.” 


Minnesota Job Skills Partnership grants

Hennepin Technical College, Polaris - $92,405
Polaris will partner with Hennepin Technical College to improve employees’ technical skills, step up innovation, and increase the speed of design and development with an upgraded computer-aided design tool. The new computer-aided design software is expected to minimize physical prototyping while increasing creativity to help deliver better products in less time.
A total of 267 engineering and design employees will participate in hands-on training at the Wyoming facility. Continuing education units will be awarded. Training will improve the technical skills of computer-aided design users, resulting in efficient, more rapid new product development. Hennepin Technical College will expand their capacity with state-of-the-art CAD principles and techniques transferable to other industries.
Contact: Rich Kelly, Hennepin Technical College, 763-488-2728

Hennepin Technical College, ConAgra Foods – $290,000
ConAgra Foods manufactures and sells packaged foods for commercial customers, foodservice vendors, restaurants and retail consumers.  Headquartered in Omaha, Neb., there are six ConAgra facilities in Minnesota. Funding will customize existing curriculum for training 335 employees (including 116 new hires). All employees will complete Manufacturing Foundations: Shop Math and Measurement.  An Industrial Electricity and Electronics course will focus on production workers. Power Transmission and Pneumatics courses will be for higher-level production positions.  Employees with English as a Second Language will participate in Occupational English. Company-wide training will improve general safety behavior, help troubleshoot production issues, and increase employee productivity and retention. Hennepin Technical College will expand training in foundation skills in manufacturing and food processing settings.
Contact: Cherie Rollings, Hennepin Technical College, 763-488-2731

Normandale Community College, Western National Insurance Group - $222,216
The grant will be used to develop and deliver training for all 320 current employees in Fundamentals of Customer Experience, with additional training based on each employee’s job title, work role, and need for specific skill sets. Through training, employees will be able to respond to changing customer requirements in ways that build lasting customer relationships; better use data, technology and channels; integrate change management principles; and increase revenue. Normandale Community College will gain capacity through the customization of existing courses and development of new courses.
Contact:  Jeff Hudson, Normandale Community College, 952-358-8705

Minneapolis Community and Technical College, Gedney Foods - $240,675
Gedney, one of Minnesota’s oldest food companies, is a leading national manufacturer of branded and private label pickles, relish, condiments and preserves. Funding will increase the capacity of the Gedney workforce in reaching their employment/earning, safety, communication, Safe Quality Food (SQF) Certification and production goals. M ulti-cultural videos will enhance Communication and Team Workplace training and Production Advancement Skills training. The current and future workforce will operate more safely, with greater efficiency, and with the skills needed to move up economically within the company, as a result. The college will become an authorized, licensed SQF provider in Minnesota.
Contact: Reede Webster, Minneapolis Community and Technical College, 612-659-6501


Dakota County Technical College, Intek Plastics - $260,096
Intek Plastics, located in Hastings, provides high quality, precisely engineered, customer-specific products. F unds will support developing and delivering new and customized courses for 153 current and 12 new employees. Training will provide employees with the skills needed to expand Intek’s operations, and trainees will have the opportunity to advance to higher level positions. Training will take place at the company, and Computer Basics will be offered online. The project will increase Dakota County Technical College’s capacity to deliver industry-demanded skills training for other manufacturing sectors.
Contact:  Kathy Carlson, Dakota County Technical College, 651-423-8549


Dakota County Technical College, BTD Manufacturing - $300,000
Funding will support a partnership with BTD Manufacturing and Dakota County Technical College to meet the hands-on robotic welding training needs of 267 current and  23 new employees at the company’s Lakeville and Detroit Lakes plants.
A skilled workforce needed to expand BTD’s operations in Minnesota will result from this project. Dakota County Technical College will enhance its capacity to provide robotic welding training to other employers.
Contact:  Larry Lewis, Dakota County Technical College, 651-423-8276


Anoka Ramsey Community College, H. Brooks and Company - $199,250
H. Brooks and Company is a food distributor and packaging company located in New Brighton. Funding will be used to develop a comprehensive training program that will focus on Operations Training, Productivity Improvement, and Innovation and Creativity. All 111 employees will complete at least one area of training. H. Brooks will maximize worker capacity as they transition to a more productive environment, as a result of the training. Employees completing training will be eligible for promotion opportunities. Anoka Ramsey Community College will gain exposure to a new industry and add new courses which will benefit other distribution and food products businesses.
Contact:  Stephen Jones, Anoka Ramsey Community College, 763-433-1683


Inver Hills Community College, Shutterfly, Inc. - $307,955
Founded in 1999, Shutterfly is a supplier of customized photo albums and other personalized stationary products ordered online. Funding will support a partnership with Inver Hills Community College to assist Shutterfly in developing a comprehensive workplace training program to meet production goals. All 1,084 employees will receive training appropriate for the category and position of the employee. This project will develop the skills of new Shutterfly employees and enable a successful launch of their new production facility. Inver Hills Community College will enhance its customized training capabilities for businesses new to Minnesota.
Contact:  Peter Hoch, Inver Hills Community College, 651-450-3763


Minnesota State College-Southeast Technical, Benedictine Health System - $270,257
Benedictine Healthcare System, headquartered in Duluth, is one of the largest senior care organizations in the country with 4,900 individuals employed at 28 facilities in Minnesota. Multi-skilling is necessary to ensure a high quality continuum of care while controlling healthcare costs. Funding will be used to develop a new training program for Certified Care Partner, an emerging occupation. Training will greatly improve the skills of 277 Benedictine Health System employees who will be more marketable and have increased wages and employment opportunities as a result. Minnesota State College-Southeast Technical will gain new courses and new Certified Care Partner Certification program to serve other long-term care businesses and individuals.
Contact: Calli Ekblad, Minnesota State College-Southeast Technical , 651-385-6320


Minnesota State College-Southeast Technical, TRW Automotive - $300,000
TRW Automotive is a leader in steering, braking, electronic and safety systems and producer of heating, ventilation and air conditioning controls and integrated electronic control panels. Following significant investment in new production and test equipment TRW-Winona is now the lead candidate in the award of major contracts by the top three U.S. vehicle manufacturers.  With 260 current (Union) employees, TRW anticipates hiring 150 new workers over the next two years. Funds will support training 410 employees to prepare new workers for the production floor and upgrade the skills of the existing workforce. Training certification includes credit-based degrees, diplomas, and hourly-based certificates. Minnesota State College-Southeast Technical will have enhanced curriculum relevant to other individuals and auto industry businesses as a result of the project.
Contact:  Calli Ekblad, Minnesota State College-Southeast Technical, 6 51-385-6320


Minnesota West Community and Technical College, Avicenna Technology - $236,903
Avicenna Technology manufactures and supplies precision medical device components and assemblies for the world’s largest medical device original equipment manufacturers. Funding will provide the workforce with training to identify, analyze, reduce and eliminate non-value added costs from the manufacturing processes, develop a sustainability model, and train in-house professionals. Curriculum used to train 156 employees will focus on Operational Efficiency for Precision Manufacturing, Advanced Process Engineering, and Organization Behavior for Manufacturing. Minnesota West Community and Technical College will also develop a 9-credit Six Sigma Methodologies Certificate program. Avicenna employees will gain transferrable skills and increased opportunities for advancement as a result. The college will be better equipped to meet the demands of the manufacturing workforce with the addition of the Six Sigma Certificate.
Contact:  Dawn Regnier, Minnesota West Community and Technical College, 507-223-1313


Alexandria Technical and Community College, Central Minnesota Credit Union - $228,760
Central Minnesota Credit Union is a member-owned organization serving 50,000 customers and has 16 branches, 272 current employees and $785 million in assets. Central Minnesota Credit Union anticipates hiring 28 new employees during the grant period. The credit union will coordinate with Alexandria Technical and Community College to develop curriculum focusing on Financial and Leadership training for 300 employees. Sixteen employees will receive Online Course Development training, enabling them to manage e-learning training modules. Online training will allow employees in remote locations to participate in courses while saving time and money. Employees will have the opportunity to progress to higher positions based on completed coursework. Alexandria Technical College will increase its educational capacity with the development of Financial Leadership and Financial Management curriculum.
Contact: Linda Muchow, Alexandria Technical and Community College, 320-762-4539


Lake Superior College, AAR Corporation - $89,265
AAR provides products and services to the aerospace, government and defense industries. Headquartered in Wood Dale, Ill., AAR employs 296 employees, including 115 contract personnel in Duluth that provide aircraft overhaul and repair services for Air Canada. Funding will provide eligible applicants with support technician pre-employment training. L ake Superior College will develop a 60-hour Aircraft Maintenance Support Training Program and target 50 eligible individuals, including minorities and women, for the training. Duluth WorkForce Center and SOAR Career Solutions will recruit, screen and provide an occupational overview to potential trainees. Participants who successfully complete the training will have a direct pipeline to support technician jobs at the Duluth AAR facility.  Lake Superior College will develop six new curriculum offerings.
Contact:  Steve Wagner, Lake Superior College, 218-733-5934


Minnesota State University Mankato, Berry Pallets, Inc. - $49,842
Located in Waseca, Berry Pallets offers several varieties of pallets including hand-built, customized and special treatment processes. Funding will be used to develop and deliver training to help the business optimize automation and improve their workforce capacity, leading to higher productivity and quality. Training for all 37 employees, including English-as-a-second language participants, supervisors and management, will be based on their needs and position within the organization. All participants will earn certificates for completed courses and opportunities for advancement or greater earnings through a new incentive program. The college will expand relationships with this industry sector as a result of the training project.
Contact:  Jan Bauer, Minnesota State University Mankato, 507-389-3283


Minneapolis Community and Technical College, St. Paul Pioneer Press - $49,931
The Pioneer Press/, Minnesota’s second largest newspaper, currently serves readers and advertisers throughout the eastern half of the Twin Cities, and western Wisconsin. Located in St. Paul, they have 519 employees. Funding will support a partnership with Minneapolis Community and Technical College to provide business transformation training for 170 employees. The training will ensure employees have the skills to deploy digital media tools for subscribers and advertisers and to maximize product market share. Minneapolis Community and Technical College will develop five new courses and customize four courses, which may be further tailored to meet the needs of other industries and businesses undergoing transformation change and process improvement.
Contact:  Jan Morrissey, Minneapolis Community and Technical College, 612-659-6502

Century College, Absolute Quality Manufacturing - $48,970
Absolute Quality Manufacturing manufactures custom wire harnesses, cable assemblies, and panel builds and enclosures for a variety of markets. Located in downtown Minneapolis, the company has 153 employees. Funding will be used to train 100 assemblers, operators and cell leads. Hands-on training activities using automated production equipment, hand tools, production documents and visual aids will be offered onsite.  Upgrading the skills of the workforce will strengthen Absolute Quality Manufacturing’s ability to meet customer requirements and improve profits. Instructors will gain experience working with high-tech equipment at Absolute Quality Manufacturing.
Contact:  Jeralyn Jargo, Century College, 651-779-3235


St. Paul College, HealthEast Medical Transportation - $49,991
HealthEast Medical Transportation provides emergency medical services to residents in Ramsey and Dakota counties. HealthEast Medical Transportation needs advanced respiratory training for their EMTs and paramedics. Funding will support a partnership with Saint Paul College which has the only accredited Associate of Arts Respiratory Therapy Program. Saint Paul College and HealthEast Medical Transportation will design two Respiratory Certificates, requiring new educational materials, curriculum development and simulation laboratory experiences. Equipment not typically found in a respiratory therapy classroom, but standard in an ambulance, will be used. The college will pilot these two certificate programs to 27 HealthEast Medical Transportation staff. After completion and evaluation, the college will offer the courses to other EMTs and paramedics in the Midwest.
Contact:  Colleen Hagerman, St. Paul College, 651-846-1786


Lake Superior College, Employment Link - $38,371
Employment Link, a locally owned and operated employment service agency in Duluth, helps people with barriers prepare for, find and keep meaningful employment. The workforce of 18 provides assessment, job development, coaching, community support services and independent living services. Funding will be used to develop comprehensive, updated curriculum so employees can work more effectively with adults with multiple barriers. Standardized training will also be a resource for other regional agencies that serve clients with multiple barriers to employment.
Contact:  Steve Wagner, Lake Superior College, 218-733-5934

DEED is the state’s principal economic development agency, promoting business recruitment, expansion and retention, workforce development, international trade and community development. For more details about the agency and our services, visit us at Follow us on Twitter at



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