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  • Workforce programs across our states and region

  • Workforce programs across our states and region

    Workforce programs across our states and region

    At the end of February, North Dakota Commerce Commissioner Michelle Kommer visited The Chamber and held a roundtable conversation with business and education leaders from across our Fargo and West Fargo communities to help them learn how they can take advantage of the North Dakota Career Builders Scholarship & Loan Repayment Program. (To learn more about this program, please see this month’s Asking the Experts section with Representative Michael Howe.)

    Commissioner Kommer also spoke to the need of the state to continue to dedicate time and resources to solving the workforce needs of North Dakota, outlining key facts that face our state:

    • 47% of North Dakota hiring managers stated their company’s growth is limited by an inability to attract and retain qualified workers.
    • 80% of job openings in North Dakota take more than 1 month to fill; 28% take more than 3 months.
    • In 2017, North Dakota had the largest percentage gap between the number of highly educated people who left the state and the number who moved to North Dakota (19.9%), meaning ND is suffering the largest relative loss of home-grown talent of any state in the nation.
    • In 2019, the North Dakota population grew by just .53%— down from an all-time high of 2.98% in 2013.
    • Over the next 10 years, 21% of North Dakota businesses expect to lose at least half of their staff to retirement.
    Minnesota’s SciTech Program
    SciTech is a Minnesota-based program that works to connect students in the STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) with Minnesota’s small businesses (less than 250 worldwide FTEs). This connection is created through paid, hands-on internships that provide students the opportunity to gain experience in their desired field and businesses the opportunity to receive financial assistance for approved internships and students. The program offers companies a one-to-one wage match, up to $2,500 per intern.

    Examples of STEM related fields that have been able to capitalize on this workforce program include: aerospace, defense, agriculture, food science, biotechnology & life sciences, engineering services, fuels, energy, it/computer technology, mining, materials, and manufacturing & processing.

    Further program information and grant applications can be found at scitechmn.org.

    North Dakota's Operation Intern
    Operation Intern is a North Dakota based program designed to expand the number of internships, workplace experiences and apprenticeship positions within North Dakota in the state’s targeted industries. For the 2019–2021 biennium, there is a total amount of $855,000 available and employers can receive up to $4,000 per intern, up to five interns, in each year of the biennium. All grant dollars provided by the state must also be matched by the business one-to-one.

    The grant process for the May 1, 2020 funding cycle will be open from March 25 to April 12. Priority is given to small businesses in the targeted industries of energy, advanced manufacturing, added-value agriculture, tourism, and technology-based business. If your industry is not on this list, it does not exclude you from potentially receiving a grant.

    Further program information and grant applications can be found at workforce.nd.gov/workforce/operationintern.

    The Chamber’s Education committee
    The Chamber recognizes the vital importance of promoting partnerships between educators and employers to address the workforce, economic and business development needs of our region. With thousands of open jobs in the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo metro, the need to develop new programs and highlight those that already exist to train and retain workers has never been greater to ensure we achieve our economic growth and prosperity aspirations.

    The Education committee will work to cultivate relationships between educators and employers to expand experiential learning opportunities (internship, job shadow, apprenticeship, etc.) for PK-12 & higher education students as well as develop sound workforce retention programs for our region.

    We are working to affect:
    • Communication between business leaders and educators by providing monthly meetings for them to develop and foster relationships while discussing committee initiatives.
    • Positively impact the perceptions that exist regarding the investment, and return on investment, for internship programs by tracking hire-on rates of newly developed internship programs.
    • The understanding and awareness among PK-12 students and parents regarding the vast array of career options and the pathways to pursuing those careers by providing exposure to various career opportunities.
    • The ability of K-12 educators to ensure students on the “career” track get 75 hours of meaningful workplace learning by working to provide additional experiential learning opportunities.
    Learn more at fmwfchamber.com/education.

    Fueling Our Future update
    With the first quarter of the year coming to a close, Fueling Our Future (FOF) has a lot to be proud of, with great progress on multiple projects. Below are updates on just a few of the ongoing efforts.



    Campus FM
    This new project, approved in January, has proven exciting with extreme potential impact for our community. Addressing the workforce shortage, this program engages various community partners who are already working hard to retain talent, in a region-wide collaborative plan to increase the retention rate of college graduates. A group of dedicated community leaders have already met, starting initial conversations and formulating a plan. More to come on this large-scale collaborative project.

    Business Accelerator
    In early February, Plug and Play kicked off their Fargo business accelerator focused on agriculture technology. This is great news for our community! FOF continues to support this initiative as we are thrilled to welcome Plug and Play to our community and look forward to the companies they will attract to our region. We are excited to connect with, support and grow the various emerging ag-tech startups that go through the accelerator program. Fargo operations are expected to begin in late May.

    Shovel-Ready Site Program
    A powerful economic growth tool soon to be added to our\ region’s toolbox is FOF’s Shovel-Ready Site Program. This program will improve our ability to attract new business and support regional companies critical to the overall growth of our community. FOF has engaged Schneider Strategy Consulting for this program. Initial work kicked off in early February with Phil Schneider visiting our region for stakeholder meetings and site visits. The initial phase of work includes creating the program, identifying sites, and marketing two to four locations.

    Visit fuelingourfuture.net for more information.

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