In addition to the Altru donation, the campaign this week received pledges of $ 500,000 from Grand Forks Economic Development Corp., $ 100,000 from True North Equipment and $ 50,000 from JLG Architects.
The funds will help a select group of local leaders, led by the local school district, as they seek $ 10 million in public funding to help make the project happen. Importantly, earning this funding depends on a local $ 10 million match from the community, making this week’s giveaways part of an undergraduate philanthropy that is almost certainly due to continue before an application deadline in less than two months.
“This is one of the most significant projects the community has undertaken,” said Keith Lund, President and CEO of the Local Economic Development Corporation, “and one of the most significant projects and the most important ones we’ve seen since my stint at EDC over the past 15 years.
EDC’s board of directors unanimously approved the engagement at a meeting Thursday morning. Half of the $ 500,000 will come from EDC’s reserve funds, while the other half will come from the EDC foundation.
Kristi Hall-Jiran, senior philanthropy manager at Altru, told the Herald that she sees Altru’s engagement as an investment in the community. This investment will pay dividends not only for the average employer, she said, but also specifically for Altru, which has felt the throes of a nationwide labor shortage disrupting care. health and beyond.
“The health care situation is particularly critical, and truly urgently needed across the country. Altru is no different, and especially nursing is one of our disciplines that we see as a really critical workforce shortage right now, ”Jiran-Hall said.
A spokesperson said the company currently has 95 hospital-based RN positions in Grand Forks.
The career and technology hub, local leaders hope, can alleviate these labor shortages. If built, it would exist somewhere between a trades school and college and university, helping to steer students into programs and careers that match them with local employers.
John Oncken, CEO and co-owner of True North, said the center is a useful way to get students interested in jobs they might not otherwise have considered, such as farm work. Easily dismissed as agricultural labor, it is a huge sector that needs all kinds of workers.
“My field is (artificial intelligence), technology, efficiency, automation (information technology), producing more crops per acre than I have ever done before and working with it.” really spacecraft-type machines. … We have an education system that maybe doesn’t define where the industry is at, ”Oncken said.
The push for the career center comes as Grand Forks, the state and even the rest of the country grapple with a labor shortage – a shortage that has disrupted the labor supply in the trucking and service industries and beyond. It’s difficult to pinpoint exactly what caused this shortage, but many observers say it’s the result of changing demographics, the lasting effects of COVID, or both.
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“I think the pandemic has changed the way people generally think about work. People are a little more selective about where they will take a job, ”Hall-Jiran said. “I heard it was the ‘big resignation’. I think that’s a trend we’re seeing across the country, and it’s clear Grand Forks is no different. “
Meanwhile, said Oncken, “we have so many opportunities to capture (the attention) of young people early and help them really understand what is available.”
Mike McLean, principal architect at JLG Architects, said in a statement from the Economic Development Corp. that “at JLG, we are building community – and what better way to help our community thrive than by supporting forward-thinking collaborative education for the future workforce in our region.”
So far, Lund estimates, there is just under $ 4.5 million of the total $ 10 million in funding on hand to meet the state-required threshold. This includes funding announced this week, as well as $ 1 million from the local school district and a likely land donation from the City of Grand Forks.
The project has been heading into development since the summer, with contributions from many Grand Forks leaders – in local schools, universities, and city and county governments.
The deadline to apply for funding is December 1 – although Lund stresses that everything must be in place for local school officials, who will submit the application, to sign at a school board meeting in late November.
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This means that time is running out on government funding and that only about six weeks remain.
“This center is going to focus on introducing and training students for the careers that are here in the Grand Forks area…” Lund said. “In terms of investing in local labor needs, this is the project that is going to have the most impact, in my opinion.”