Fifty employers to attend Rural Minnesota CEP job fair at M State on March 29; job market remains tight

Rural Minnesota CEP and the Detroit Lakes Regional Chamber of Commerce will be hosting their annual job fair at M State in Detroit Lakes on March 29. About 50 employers are expected to attend.

IMG_4557 (2).JPG
Brittney Nordick, left, human resources manager at Team Industries of Audubon, speaks to event attendees during the Lakes Area Job Fair held at the Kent Freeman Arena in Detroit Lakes on April 27, 2022, hosted by the Rural Minnesota Concentrated Employment Program.
Michael Achterling / Detroit Lakes Tribune

DETROIT LAKES — About 50 businesses from across Becker County and west-central Minnesota are expected to attend the annual spring job fair on March 29 at M State in Detroit Lakes.

The event is hosted by Rural Minnesota Concentrated Employment Program and the Detroit Lakes Regional Chamber of Commerce and may be more important now than ever before due to a tight job market, said Kelley Nowell, a team leader at Rural Minnesota CEP.

"It's a good time for wages and flexibility, and what does the employer offer the job seeker as well as what does the job seeker offer the employer," said Nowell. "(The job fair) is a nice casual environment to have a conversation (with an employer), or ask a question without feeling judged, or labeled."

According to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED), Becker County had a non-seasonally-adjusted unemployment rate of 4.4% in January, a historically low percentage for the month. Only 850 individuals in Becker County were receiving unemployment benefits in January, down from 1,173 in January 2019. During the height of the COVID pandemic, 1,923 Becker County residents received unemployment benefits in April 2020, the highest level in more than 32 years.

Chart of unemployment rates in U.S., Minnesota, and Becker County. (not seasonally adjusted)
Contributed / DEED

The private sector in Minnesota has fully-recovered its 385,900 pandemic jobs lost between February to April 2020 and regained 388,700 since that time, according to a DEED news release.


"Minnesota’s continued job growth is great news – it’s a sign of the ongoing strength of Minnesota companies and employers," Interim DEED Commissioner Kevin McKinnon said in the news release.

Chart of unemployed persons in Minnesota (left value) and Becker County (right value).
Contributed / DEED
Chart of participating labor force in Minnesota (left value) and Becker County (right value).
Contributed / DEED

Nowell said there is no "single" reason to blame for the current labor challenges, but instead a multitude of factors have accumulated over time to bring us to where we are today.

"In reality, the number of people out there available to work is lower for many reasons and its going to stay that way, so it is going to stay a little bit of a crisis for a while," she said. "Day care is primary. There's a lot of parents, mothers, people at home with their kids because they can't find day care, can't afford day care."

Another reason, Nowell said, is that baby boomers are going to continue to leave the workforce as they enter their retirement years and there are not enough bodies coming up in the generation behind them to replace the loss.

"It's not going to be an overnight fix for day care." she said. "Little by little, though, more people have returned to work, but there isn't going to suddenly be a huge influx of job seekers. It's going to be slow."

Many employers are offering a variety of hiring incentives to lure more applicants, she said

This year's job fair, Nowell said, will feature employers across a wide spectrum of career fields, like: health care, manufacturing, hospitality, construction and education. It should have "a little bit of everything," said Nowell.

According to a Facebook event post, employers scheduled to attend, include:


  • American Crystal Sugar
  • Arvig
  • Asphalt Preservation Company, Inc
  • Blue Sky Inc
  • Breezy Shores Resort & Beach Club
  • Brunswick (Lund Boats)
  • BTD Manufacturing
  • BW Integrated Systems
  • Carr's Tree Service
  • Catalyst Behavioral Solutions
  • City of Detroit Lakes
  • DL Public Schools
  • Doherty Staffing
  • Dynamic Homes
  • Ecumen DL / Sunnyside Care Center
  • Express Employment Professionals
  • Fair Hills Resort
  • Frazee Care Center
  • Friesen's Inc
  • Griswold Home Care
  • Health Star Home Health
  • Hire Quest Direct
  • Hospice of RRV
  • Jack Pines Resort and Cookhouse
  • Lakeshirts
  • Laney's Mechanical Inc
  • Leighton Broadcasting
  • Metal Sales
  • MN Department of Transportation - District 4 DL
  • M State
  • Northwest Technical College
  • Pelican Landing
  • Precision Landscape & Irrigation
  • Pro Resources
  • Sellin Brothers, Inc
  • Shoe Sensation
  • Shooting Star Casino
  • SJE
  • Sleep Wellness Center
  • Solum Painting
  • TEAM Industries
  • United States Navy
  • Walmart - Detroit Lakes
  • White Earth Human Resources
  • White Earth Indian Health Service
  • YMCA of Cass and Clay Counties
  • Zenergy

A new feature for attendees this year, she said, will be on-site, free tax preparation services through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program for those who haven't filed yet.
"So, if you haven't gotten your taxes done, come to the job fair and get your taxes done," she said.

Individuals should bring their W-2s and any other tax related information, if they wish to use the free service.

The job fair will be March 29 from 2-5:30 p.m. at M State in Detroit Lakes.

Lead Multimedia Reporter for the Detroit Lakes Tribune and the Perham Focus.
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