State Awards Grants to Benefit Laid-Off MN Workers

A total of $600,000 in grants was recently awarded to help former employees of BAE Systems, Cargill, and Quality Wine and Spirits find employment.

A total of 150 workers who were laid off from three local businesses are receiving assistance from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) as they hunt for new jobs, the state agency said Friday.

The affected workers will together benefit from $600,000 in grants from the state’s Dislocated Worker Program, which is administered by DEED. The grants pay for services designed to help the laid-off employees find employment, including assistance with job-hunting strategies and finding training to gain new skills.

A total of $200,000 will aid 50 former employees of London-based defense and aerospace manufacturer BAE Systems, which in 2009 announced plans to significantly reduce its work force in Fridley after the company lost a defense contract. This is the second time that DEED has provided funding to assist some of the laid-off BAE Systems workers: In 2010, the U.S. Department of Labor awarded a $787,000 National Emergency Grant to DEED, which was used to fund skill-development services for nearly 200 former BAE Systems employees.

Fifty former workers from Wayzata-based Cargill will also benefit from $200,000 in grants. The company in December announced plans to cut up to 2,000 jobs from its global work force. DEED spokesman Monte Hanson said Tuesday that the company is staggering its layoffs, and additional funding could later be made available to other Cargill employees laid off in Minnesota.

Another $200,000 will aid 50 former workers of Bloomington-based Quality Wine and Spirits, who lost their jobs when the company was acquired by Miami, Florida-based Southern Wine & Spirits earlier this year.

“Losing a job can cause significant stress for workers and their families,” DEED Commissioner Mark Phillips said in a statement. “The Dislocated Worker Program helps ease the transition for people who are looking for new work or want to train for new careers.”

The funding for former BAE Systems, Cargill, and Quality Wine and Spirits employees represents the second round of grants through the Dislocated Worker Program announced this month. On May 17, DEED announced that $540,000 in grants would aid 135 workers who were laid off at two local businesses: $240,000 will benefit 60 former employees of the now-shuttered Bloomingdale’s store in Bloomington and $300,000 will assist 75 people laid off by Eden Prairie-based Supervalu, Inc.

The Dislocated Worker Program provides assistance to both laid-off individuals and employers facing large-scale layoffs. Laid-off workers can receive one-on-one counseling to develop a plan for finding employment—including career planning and other services. Employers considering layoffs of more than 50 workers can tap the program for assistance to ensure compliance with federal regulations and offer on-site services to employees.