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Perham EDC, Kit Masters part of workforce project

Minnesota State Community and Technical College (M State) in Detroit Lakes is one of six recipients of West Central Initiative's first ever Competitive Workforce Grant award.

The purpose of the new grant program is to improve the economy of west central Minnesota by providing one year of start-up funding for organizations and communities to launch new, promising workforce development strategies that address skill shortages in the region.

M State - Detroit Lakes was awarded $40,000 for its "Machining for Manufacturing" project. This is a joint effort between six manufacturers and the Detroit Lakes and Fergus Falls High Schools and is focused on the Detroit Lakes, Fergus Falls and Perham areas.

The project will provide incumbent workers with machining training and mentoring that will advance them from an entry-level job status to operator status and a likely pay raise. In addition, the two high schools will purchase equipment and revise their curriculum in industrial technology to make it more relevant to the needs of local manufacturers. 

The manufacturing partners include Swan Machine/Kit Masters Inc. in Perham, Friesen's Inc. and Sunrise Machine and Tool Inc. in Detroit Lakes, and Innova Industries, Excel Plastics and West Tool and Design in Fergus Falls.

Other partners include the Department of Employment and Economic Development, Rural Minnesota Concentrated Employment Program, Inc., the City of Detroit Lakes Economic Development Commission, The City of Fergus Falls Economic Improvement Commission and the City of Perham Economic Development Commission.

"The need for workers with machining skills far exceeds the supply throughout our area. This grant will help to improve the skills of incumbent workers at area manufacturing companies. It will also assist area high schools upgrade their manufacturing curriculum to help interest students into manufacturing careers," said G.L. Tucker, M-State's Dean of Custom Training Services/Business Entrepreneurial Services. "Manufacturing is a vital piece of our economy in west central Minnesota and we appreciate WCI's commitment to workforce development in our area."

The awardees were chosen because of their capacity to:

· meet the needs of both employers and workers in west central Minnesota;

· allow an organization to stretch and experiment with new ways to address skill shortages in west central Minnesota; and

· test promising approaches likely to result in people securing jobs that pay family-sustaining incomes.

The next round of the Competitive Workforce Grant will be announced in early 2013.

West Central Initiative is a regional community foundation serving the nine west central Minnesota counties of Becker, Clay, Douglas, Grant, Otter Tail, Pope, Stevens, Traverse and Wilkin.

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