Much-needed grant worth $370,000 comes to Bemidji-area technical college

ST. PAUL, MINN. – A sizeable grant which takes a new approach to education is headed towards the Minnesota Innovation’s Job Promise Program based out of Northwest Technical College in Bemidji. The $370,000 grant from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) will help Native Americans, low-income and underemployed individuals find full-time employment.

According to Provost Vice President of Northwest Technical College John Centko, the year-old program aims to reverse the traditional workforce system by connecting job seekers with employers first – and then training them for specific positions, many of them in the manufacturing field.

“This is an exciting opportunity for public and private industry to collaborate and meet the educational needs in the region for precision manufacturing. Business and industry have been very supportive of our new model, and we hope to have a positive impact on their labor needs,” Centko said.

Another component of the new program is recruitment. The college says this program will try to reach out to potential customers – especially to Native American populations in the area like the Red Lake Band of Chippewa and the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, NW Indian OIC, Beltrami Works and Beltrami County.

Senator Tom Saxhaug (DFL-Grand Rapids) is a strong supporter of the program.

“A grant of this size will go a long way in developing a trained, educated workforce to help Northern Minnesota remain competitive in a global economy,” Senator Saxhaug said.

The college says its next focus will be addressing the shortage of skilled employees in the construction trades.

Senator Tom Saxhaug
Tom Saxhaug represents District 5, which includes portions of Beltrami, Cass, Hubbard, and Itasca counties in the northern part of the state. He is a retired insurance agent. Sen. Saxhaug chairs the State Departments and Veterans Budget Division.

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