Last week, the Minnesota State Energy Sector Partnership held an event at the State Capitol in St. Paul to highlight the success of the grantees of their three-year, $6 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor. The partnership was funded as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. The BlueGreen Alliance Foundation’s Anoka Green and Minnesota Green programs were among the grantees that received funding from the grant and their successes were highlighted during the daylong event.
Jerome Balsimo, Training Manager for the GreenPOWER program, was on hand at the event to share the successes of both the programs. “We’ve had great success helping people find jobs and giving them job skills they can use to make the companies they work for more efficient and green,” said Balsimo. “Eighty-five percent of the unemployed participants in the Anoka Green program were placed in jobs and 76 percent of the participants in the Minnesota Green program have gotten jobs so far.”
Anoka Green combines the GreenPOWER training — a series of workshops designed to help workers find energy and water efficiency and reduce waste, saving money for companies — with a Precision Sheet Metal training course at the Anoka County Technical College. Minnesota Green combined GreenPOWER with additional training in medical device manufacturing or customized welding training. Over 53 percent of the participants in Minnesota Green found employment in the medical device field, with the remainder finding jobs in the welding industry.
Pairing green skills that reduce waste and increase profits for companies with manufacturing skills was a natural match and was especially important during the recession, when jobs were scarce and there plenty of competition for the jobs that were available.
“Our intent was to do all this training and get all these jobs, but no one was hiring. We had to regroup,” said Carol Dombek, the Program Manager for the Minnesota State Energy Sector Partnership. “We’ve got some great projects here in Minnesota, we’re getting people trained and getting people into jobs.
“We will exceed all of our goals by the time the project is done on June 1,” she added.
Dombek says the Minnesota State Energy Sector Partnership was recognized as one of the 25 top performing ARRA grants. The partnership funded 25 projects around the state in total, training over 1,700 workers and 1,000 workers are expected to enter employment by mid-2013. You can get more information on the Governor’s Workforce Development Council website.
Photo: Jerome Balsimo and Carol Dombek at the Minnesota State Capitol.