Dear Friends and Neighbors,
I hope everyone’s summer is off to a great start. I have enjoyed attending school board meetings, city council meetings and town halls throughout our community the last few weeks. Thank you to everyone who has showed up and provided input and feedback. I appreciate the opportunity to interact with you and hear your questions and concerns about the legislative session and everyday issues you are facing.
Included in this update is information on the following:
*Youth Skills Training grants for our schools
*Local bonding projects
*Information on the Vietnam Veterans wall replica at the Capitol
Youth Skills Training Grant
I am pleased to announce to you that our communities recently received some great news from St. Paul. A few weeks ago, the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry (DLI) announced that a collaborative from Goodhue County, consisting of local school districts, Minnesota State Southeast and Red Wing Ignite, has been awarded a Youth Skills Training (YST) grant totaling $95,000.
The grant comes from DLI’s Youth Skills Training program (YST@DLI), which is designed to help develop and implement paid-learning opportunities in high demand fields for high school and college students. It aims to provide employment training for students by enabling partnerships between schools and industry in fields such as manufacturing, IT, and healthcare.
The grant program was established by bipartisan legislation that I co-authored and helped pass during the 2017 legislative session. Workforce development and enhancing career readiness opportunities for students have been top priorities of mine during my time in the legislature, and I am proud to have helped make this program a reality for Goodhue County.
Here’s a little background on how these dollars became available for our schools and manufacturers:
Once the legislation passed last May, DLI had six months to outline the program requirements and grant application process. I began working to build awareness of the opportunity and hosted a district-wide meeting last fall, inviting education and business leaders to introduce them to the initiative. At this half-day session, the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development provided area manufacturers with statistics on regional workforce shortages and other resources, while DLI introduced the group to the grant. After this seminar, groups comprising the Goodhue County Collaborative came together and began their extensive work on the project.
Here’s a quick overview of how the program will be implemented:
Each school will select 2-5 students to be a part of the first pilot. They will receive OSHA 10 training and soft skills training this fall, with business placement to follow in January. In the fall of 2019, the program will increase by an additional 30 students, meeting the pilot’s total of about 50 students.
In addition to the invaluable paid worksite learning experience, participants will be exposed to pathway courses at MN State Southeast and participate in regular meetings with their educator/employer cohorts; there are many benefits of the program beyond students’ time at the worksite.
I would like to express my gratitude for the commitment of the Superintendents and school leaders, MN State Southeast and Red Wing Ignite, which was integral in ensuring this exciting opportunity for our students and schools. It was an honor to advocate for Goodhue County and partner with these important local stakeholders throughout this process.
As our state faces a shortage of skilled workers, the YST@DLI grant program represents a crucial step in closing this workforce gap. These dollars will have a tremendously positive impact on private manufacturers and technical skills education throughout Goodhue County, benefitting high school students from Cannon Falls, Lake City, Red Wing, Goodhue, and Kenyon-Wanamingo. It will be exciting to see the educational and employment opportunities that the grant will enable young people to experience.
Again, this is great news for our area; the YST@DLI program will better prepare students for career opportunities and ensure manufacturers have the skilled workers they need. As the program gets underway, I am eager to see the benefits our communities will enjoy for years to come.
Local Bonding Projects
At the end of May, Governor Dayton signed into law the legislature’s bonding bill. The bill consists of $825 million to fund construction projects statewide, such as roads and bridges and water infrastructure. It also dedicates $25 million for critical school safety building upgrades – one of my highest priorities this year.
For our communities specifically, the bonding bill funds a number of beneficial projects. I authored several measures in the bill and secured needed funding for Wabasha’s National Eagle Center, the Goodhue County Historical Society, the Mississippi Blufflands Trail, and the Port Development Assistance Fund for improved boat dockage and waterway access in Red Wing and Wabasha.
“The Wall that Heals”
This weekend, The Wall that Heals, a traveling replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall in Washington, D.C., will be on display at the Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul. The wall is a part of Minnesota Remembers Vietnam, a broader educational initiative to remember the Vietnam War and honor the Americans who served in it. In addition to the wall, at the Capitol this weekend there will be a number of events including an opening ceremony, a daily reading of the names of Minnesota’s fallen, museum exhibits, film screenings, a mobile education center, and more. This is an extraordinary opportunity to learn more about the Vietnam War and pay tribute to the many brave Americans who served, including those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.
The event began yesterday and runs through Sunday, June 24. You can learn more about the event at https://www.mnvietnam.org/thewallthatheals/.
Staying in Touch
As always, please do not hesitate to reach out with any questions or concerns that you might have on any state government or legislative issue. I can be reached via email at email@example.com or by phone at 651-296-8635.