Archive for the ‘Press Release’ category

Workforce Development, Inc. Executive Director Participating in White House Jobs Forum

December 2, 2009

Rochester , Minn. , December 1, 2009

Randy Johnson, Executive Director of Southeast Minnesota’s Workforce Development, Inc. will be participating in the December 3, 2009 White House “Forum on Jobs and Economic Growth” .  Approximately 130 national leaders from business, labor and other organizations will participate on six discussion panels.  Topics include “The Innovation Agenda and Green Jobs of the Future.”  Other topics will explore further steps to increase lending to small businesses, make long-term investments in rebuilding infrastructure, encourage exports over consumption, give employers incentives to hire, and train workers for new-generation jobs.

Workforce Development, Inc. (WDI) is an independent, non-profit agency with a long history of serving the needs of job seekers and employers in Southeast Minnesota. WDI is dedicated to developing and advancing the workforce to meet the current and future needs of the ten counties they serve in Southeast Minnesota.



Randy Johnson



Workforce Development, Inc. receives $95,000 Renewable Energy Marketplace – Alliance for Talent Development WIRED Grant

September 21, 2009

September 21, 2009

Rochester, MN–The Renewable Energy Marketplace – Alliance for Talent Development (MNREM) recently awarded $800,000 to 12 area partnerships proposing innovative talent development and entrepreneurship solutions for the renewable energy industry in the 36-county MNREM region.  Workforce Development, Inc., which serves individuals in ten counties across Southeast Minnesota received a $95,000 grant to strengthen the Renewable Energy Skilled Worker Pipeline project through addition of safety training, adding an Industrial Maintenance skills training component, and providing On-the-Job-Training opportunities.

The WIRED (Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development) initiative is a $5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor, to foster new partnerships and ways of delivering education and training to enhance the region’s talent development system.

“Minnesota has always been a leader in renewable energy innovation,” said Mark Willers, MNREM board chair. “Our first round of MNREM-WIRED funded projects is already starting to show exciting growth and outcomes for developing talent in the renewable energy industry. With these MNREM investments, we make it possible for our renewable industries and our state to grow and adapt more quickly to our changing world.”

This is the second set of awards through the Renewable Energy Marketplace to support talent development, entrepreneurship and business growth, and regional leadership and identity. The projects funded through these awards represent a step toward building the strong and proactive talent development system that the renewable energy industry needs to stay competitive.

Below is a partnership of the projects funded in this round – for more information on these and previous projects, go to

The awards support industry-led partnerships that will transform key elements of the talent in the region.

  • $80,000 to Keoh Properties/CURE (Montevideo) to provide training to students and contractors to construct an energy-efficient, low-income home (in partnership with Habitat for Humanity and other partners)
  • $80,000 to Green Lyfe, LLC/Ridgewater College (Willmar), and other partners, for training/education of students, existing workforce, and general public in renewable/sustainable technologies through construction of LEED-certified home
  • $61,000 to Dotson Castings/MN State University, Mankato, and other partners, to facilitate the development of new renewable energy entrepreneurs/ventures in Southern Minnesota by bringing together entrepreneurship teams
  • $76,500 to Ottertail Ag Ethanol/MN State Community & Technical College-Moorhead, and other partners,  to provide alternative and renewable energy based, hands on educational programs to students in grades 8-12
  • $60,000 to BioFuell Energy, So MN Beet Sugar Coop, MN Soybean Processors/MTM Performance Solutions (Willmar), and other partners,  to provide supervisory leadership training for current and emerging supervisors
  • $95,000 to various residential building contractors/Otter Tail-Wadena Community Action Council (New York Mills), and other partners,  to train weatherization auditors/contractors to do solar site analyses/ solar air heating installations
  • To Outland Energy/MN West Community & Technical College, (Canby) and other partners,
  • $45,500 for GearTech training (Gear Failure Analysis);
  • $14,500 for Gravitec “Train the Trainer” fall protection and rescue training
  • $44,000 to provide hands-on training to present and future wind technician employees and wind energy students
  • $85,000 to SMAFE (So MN Assoc. of Food & Ethanol employers)/Ideation Consulting (New Ulm),  and other partners, to provide customized industry-specific training for Leadership Development
  • $78,000 to POET, MN Soybean Processors/Windom Education & Collaborative Center (WECC), and other partners, to enhance the workforce skills of new and existing employees in the biofuels industry through a variety of hands-on training, technology classes and internships
  • $95,000 to SoyMor Biodiesel/Workforce Development, Inc. (Albert Lea), and other partners, to strengthen the Renewable Energy Skilled Worker Pipeline project through addition of safety training, adding an Industrial Maintenance skills training component, and providing OJT opportunities across Southern MN


WIRED is a federal initiative designed to energize the nation’s economy through regional economic development partnerships and workforce education and training. The Renewable Energy Marketplace of southern and western Minnesota is one of 39 areas across the United States participating in the WIRED initiative.

To find out more about MNREM-WIRED, and to learn more about these and the earlier funded projects, please visit the MNREM website at

For details on the national WIRED program, visit

2009 Best Places to Work in Southeast MN

September 14, 2009

Best Places to Work

Position Your Organization as a

Best Place to Work in Southeast Minnesota

Workforce Development, Inc is once again ready to identify the Best Places To Work in Southeast Minnesota.  “Even in this tough economy, there are some great employers in our communities.  We want to recognize our best employers and provide valuable data to help all of our employers recognize what they do well and where they have room for improvement”, said Jakki Trihey, Workforce Development, Inc.

The Best Places To Work is a national program that recognizes the best employers in local communities.  Workforce Development, Inc. wants to survey companies within Freeborn, Mower, Rice, Steele, Goodhue, Olmstead, Houston, Dodge, Fillmore and Wabasha Counties to identify the Best Places To Work in Southeast Minnesota.  This is the second year in a row that Workforce Development, Inc. has sponsored this program for Southeast Minnesota.

Workforce Development, Inc. will be recognizing employers in two size categories:

– Companies with 100 employees or less

– Companies with more than 100

Each local organization participating in the Best Places To Work survey will be asked to complete a 40 question, online survey.  Personnel Dynamics Consulting Group, of Florida will collect the information, analyze the data, and provide the results.  Every organization participating in the survey will receive a confidential report detailing the results of the survey and identifying what employers are offering in the areas of benefits, training and development, paid time off, performance management programs, growth, advancement and many more.  The survey reports on information all business leaders should know.  The report is free for every Company that participates in the survey.

The application deadline for the Best Places To Work is October 31st.  Those wishing to participate may go directly to, access the link through our website at or contact  Jakki Trihey, Workforce Development Inc. at 507-529-2701.  Contact us today to find out if you are the Best Employer in Southeast Minnesota!

2nd Annual National Suit Drive

September 1, 2009

Concerned that thousands of men are unable to secure employment because they lack the initial, yet vital, step of looking presentable for a job interview, Workforce Development, Inc. and Men’s Wearhouse are working together to collect thousands of articles of professional attire as part of the 2nd Annual National Suit Drive, September 1-30.

Workforce Development, Inc., along with more than 200 other nonprofit organizations, have partnered with Men’s Wearhouse, the nation’s leading retailer of men’s tailored clothing, to help empower unemployed men by providing the necessary work attire that will build their self-esteem and help make a lasting impression during job interviews.

“We are very excited to work with Men’s Wearhouse on the National Suit Drive campaign,” said Jennifer Johnson, Career Counselor with Workforce Development, Inc. in Rochester MN. “Having the right professional attire can make a difference in our clients’ reaching their goal of finding a new career. The donations received from the drive will help men walk into the interview with the extra confidence needed to move forward in the current job market.”

Last year, the inaugural suit drive garnered 125,000 professional items nationally.  This year, Workforce Development, Inc. and Men’s Wearhouse have set a goal of not only gathering as many items as possible, but also increasing awareness about the importance clothing has on clients’ success as they work to overcome barriers to gainful employment.

“It became apparent many years ago that there was a long-standing need to help men who are striving for self-sufficiency,” said George Zimmer, CEO and Chairman of Men’s Wearhouse.  “We started a Merchandise Donation program to provide professional clothing to nonprofit organizations serving these men.  However, our program could not meet the demand, so we implemented the National Suit Drive to assist us in our efforts to help less fortunate men by giving them a renewed sense of dignity and respect.  Philanthropy is a major part of our corporate fabric and given the economic climate, this year’s National Suit Drive is more important than ever.”

To demonstrate its commitment, Men’s Wearhouse will add a new tie to help complete the outfit for every suit donated.

All 1,065 Men’s Wearhouse and Men’s Wearhouse & Tux locations will serve as drop-off sites for gently used suits, dress shirts, sport coats, slacks, ties, belts and shoes that will be used to benefit men in need of these items to transition into the workforce.  Men’s Wearhouse will accept donations for Workforce Development, Inc., which in turn will provide them to individuals who utilize their services.  For a complete list of drop-off locations, please visit