The Central Minnesota Joint Powers Board of County Commissioners (JPB) and the Central Minnesota Workforce Development Board (WDB) held the 14th Annual Workforce Development Board Legislative Breakfast, Workforce Development: Our Story, on December 8, 2017.
Legislators from the 11-county Local Workforce Development Area 5 (LWDA 5) were invited to attend this annual event and to participate in an informal discussion about their vision for Minnesota as it pertains to workforce development.
The event kicked off the Friday morning with a panel of participants from LWDA 5 workforce development system partner programs and services. A highlight of the morning were panel members who shared their personal stories of success made possible by employment and training programs. They talked about the courage it first took to come to the WorkForce Center to ask for help, shared their extraordinary individual challenges, and expressed sincere gratitude for the opportunities and support they learned about and received from program staff as they completed their journey. Their compelling stories invigorated attendees, board members, and legislators. Panel members included Jessica Westrud, Vocational Rehabilitation Services; Austin Carlson, Adult Basic Education (ABE) and Pathways to Prosperity; Jennifer Flores, ABE; Priscilla Baker, CMJTS Workforce Innovations and Opportunity Act (WIOA) Youth Program; Cynthia Knoell, CMJTS Public Assistance Program, WIOA, Reimagine Retail; Khamla Vongphakdy, CMJTS WIOA Dislocated Worker Program.
The second half of “Workforce Development: Our Story” highlighted legislators, or their representatives, in attendance.
Topics and discussion for the legislative panel included: What do you see as the State’s role in workforce development? How can you help ensure that state and federal funding is geographically distributed fairly between the metro and rural Workforce Development Areas? Should funding focus on supporting proven successful programs? Comments shared during the legislative discussion demonstrated the commitment our elected officials have to encouraging workforce development initiatives, and creating employment opportunities in the State of Minnesota.
Attending on behalf of Central Minnesota state and federal elected officials were State Rep. Jason Rarick, District 11B; State Senator Bruce Anderson, District 29; State Rep. Joe McDonald, District 29A; State Rep. Marion O’Neill, District 29B; State Rep. Brian Johnson, District 32A; State Rep. Jim Knoblach, District 14B; Rick Olseen (on behalf of U.S. Rep. Rick Nolan), District 8; Jacki Anderson (on behalf of U.S. Rep. Collin Peterson), District 7; Stacy Morse (on behalf of Congressman Tom Emmer), District 6.