Package of Bills Focus on Jobs, Businesses and Workforce Housing in Rural Minnesota

Senators from across Greater Minnesota came together on Wednesday to present their ideas to drive greater investment in workforce housing, job training, and workforce development in rural parts of the state. Several of the ideas grew from in-depth discussions last fall at Senate Rural Task Force meetings. Expanding job opportunities and connecting people to the jobs that are available are some of the major themes driving this package of legislation.

Five pieces of legislation were highlighted at the press conference, which include:

S.F. 420: This bill has bipartisan support and is aimed at closing the employment gap in Greater Minnesota. The bill appropriates close to $27 million for new career counselors at Workforce Development Centers across rural Minnesota, and for career counseling for young Minnesotans. This legislation is meant to increase awareness of the types of positions that are available and to connect the dots between businesses, students, and schools.

S.F. 764: This bill incentivizes greater investment in workforce housing. The legislature has heard many stories from businesses who say a shortage of housing is a real obstacle to hiring and stunts their ability to expand. This legislation, which invests $50 million, is a combination of several successful programs from neighboring states who have experienced similar problems.

S.F. 386: This bill calls for $40 million to the Business Development Public Infrastructure Program and would provide the financial stability to operate and expand well into the future. This funding would ensure grants will be available for communities that need them, and would help fund public infrastructure improvements necessary for cities to either attract new businesses or help existing businesses expand.

S.F. 525: This legislation involves a $15 million investment to implement a new and more flexible job training program designed for Greater Minnesota. This proposal also attacks the skills gap by reimbursing job creators for up to half of a training employee’s first-year wages. This program builds on the success of DEED’s Job Training Pilot Program and will be open to all employers in Greater Minnesota.

S.F. 439: Bipartisan legislation would renew Minnesota’s year-old “Border-to-Border Broadband” competitive matching grant fund with $100 million for the next two years. Broadband serves as a multiplier effect for businesses, education, health care, and economic growth across the board. In order to keep Minnesota competitive in every corner of the state, effective and reliable access to 21st century technology is key.

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