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RELEASE: House Workforce & Business Development Committee discusses Rep. Sandstede’s bill to boost investment in MDI

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

SAINT PAUL, Minn. – On Wednesday, The House Workforce and Business Development Committee held a public hearing on legislation authored by Rep. Julie Sandstede (DFL – Hibbing) to invest $450,000 of state funds each of the next two years in Minnesota Diversified Industries, Inc. (MDI). MDI operates a packaging facility in Hibbing, using an inclusive, integrated workforce approach, with nearly half of all employees being people with disabilities.

“MDI is a valued asset on the Iron Range, providing manufacturing jobs for people with disabilities along with critical skills to help workers understand their own strengths, learn how to work together and collaborate as a team, and take on new challenges,” said Rep. Sandstede. “I’ve had the opportunity to spend some time at MDI and have seen first-hand how they value their employees and help give them purpose and meaning. This organization has demonstrated their contributions to our community and state, and they are worthy of an increased investment from the Legislature.”

The state invested $100,000 per year in fiscal years 2020 and 2021, down from the $450,000 investments in fiscal years 2018 and 2019. Closing the funding gap would allow MDI to hire additional workers and provide more in-depth support to employees, including career skills and problem-solving,

In addition to the Hibbing plant, MDI has facilities in Minneapolis, Grand Rapids, and Cohasset. At the end of 2020, MDI employed 562 people, 183 of whom were people with disabilities. According to Wilder Research, each dollar invested in MDI results in a social return on investment of $4.87.

MDI’s new president Eric Black, Director of Employment Services Jeanne Eglinton, and MDI employee Delmon Smith all shared testimony with the committee.

Video of the hearing will be available on House Public Information Services’ YouTube page. More information and documents from the hearing are available on the committee’s webpage.