Thirteen Minnesota state colleges have been selected to receive grants totaling $3.3 million, which will fund the training of 4,294 current and new employees of 18 businesses in the state, according to the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED).
 
The grants are being awarded through the state agency’s Minnesota Job Skills Partnership Program, which was designed to connect businesses to educational institutions. The schools train or re-train employees, in turn expanding company work opportunities and retaining Minnesota jobs, according to DEED. Since its 1983 inception, the program has benefitted more than 260,000 Minnesota workers, the agency said.
 
In addition to the $3.3 million in state grants, DEED said it “leveraged about $8.9 million from partners” to help fund the latest round of job training.
 
Here are the five schools that will receive the largest individual grants, as well as the five businesses that will benefit from their employee-training programs:
 
Inver Hills Community College, Shutterfly, Inc. (grant size: $307,955): 1,084 employees of Shutterfly, a San Francisco-based online seller of custom photo albums and other stationery items, will receive training to support the launch of the company’s new Shakopee production facility.

Dakota County Technical College, BTD Manufacturing (grant size: $300,000): Funding will be used for hands-on robotic welding training for 267 current and 23 new employees at the Lakeville and Detroit Lakes plants of BTD Manufacturing, which specializes in metal fabrication, forming, welding, and other manufacturing services. “A skilled workforce needed to expand BTD’s operations in Minnesota will result from this project,” DEED said.
 
Minnesota State College-Southeast Technical, TRW Automotive (grant size: $300,000): After a “significant investment” in new production and test equipment, TRW Automotive in Winona is vying for contracts from the country’s largest auto makers, and it plans to hire 150 new employees over the next two years. The funds will support training 410 employees (its existing ones and those it plans to hire) to prepare new workers for the production floor and upgrade the skills of the existing workforce.
 
Hennepin Technical College, ConAgra Foods (grant size: $290,000): The funding will “customize existing curriculum for training 335 employees (including 116 new hires)” at the six Minnesota facilities operated by Omaha, Nebraska-based food manufacturer ConAgra Foods.
 
Minnesota State College-Southeast Technical, Benedictine Health System (grant size: $270,257): A total of 277 employees of the Duluth-based Benedictine Healthcare System will receive training to make them “more marketable and have increased wages and employment opportunities as a result,” DEED said. Funding will be used to develop a new training program for Certified Care Partners, an emerging occupation.
 
The other grant recipients include:
 
Hennepin Technical College, Polaris Industries ($92,405)
 
Normandale Community College, Western National Insurance Group ($222,216)
 
Minneapolis Community and Technical College, Gedney Foods ($240,675)
 
Dakota County Technical College, Intek Plastics ($260,096)
 
Anoka Ramsey Community College, H. Brooks and Company ($199,250)
 
Minnesota West Community and Technical College, Avicenna Technology ($236,903)
 
Alexandria Technical and Community College, Central Minnesota Credit Union ($228,760)
 
Lake Superior College, AAR Corporation ($89,265)
 
Minnesota State University Mankato, Berry Pallets, Inc. ($49,842)
 
Minneapolis Community and Technical College, St. Paul Pioneer Press ($49,931)
 
Century College, Absolute Quality Manufacturing ($48,970)
 
St. Paul College, HealthEast Medical Transportation ($49,991)
 
Lake Superior College, Employment Link ($38,371)
 
“Each year, our colleges and universities train over 130,000 workers through partnerships with Minnesota businesses and employers,” Minnesota State Colleges and Universities Chancellor Steven Rosenstone said in a statement. “These grants and the generous matching funds from our business partners will help ensure Minnesota workers stay at the leading edge of their fields. Customized training for employees is a critical element in keeping Minnesota industries globally competitive.”
 
DEED’s Minnesota Job Skills Partnership Program also recently awarded a $49,475 grant to Anoka-Ramsey Community College, which is training 35 employees of Elk River-based Alliance Machine.

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