PRESS RELEASE: 2024 Best Places to Work WINNERS!

Workforce Development, Inc. (WDI) is thrilled to announce the unveiling of the “Best Places to Work” in Southeast Minnesota for the year 2024, and our 14th year bringing the survey to the area. As the region’s leading advocate for workforce development and engagement, WDI takes pride in spotlighting organizations that prioritize employee satisfaction, well-being, and professional growth.

After a rigorous evaluation process, seventeen outstanding companies have emerged as the cream-of-the-crop, representing the counties of Winona, Freeborn, Mower, Rice, Steele, Goodhue, Olmsted, Houston, Dodge, Fillmore, and Wabasha. These companies have demonstrated an unwavering commitment to fostering positive work environments, nurturing talent, and driving innovation. The 2024 Best Places to Work Winners include:

Small Employer
(Under 50 Employees)
Southeast Service Cooperative
Peterson, Kolker, Haedt & Benda, Ltd.
IBI Data
Southern MN Municipal Power Agency
Arcadian Bank
Mid-Size Employer
(50-150 employees)
Albert Lea Seed House
People’s Energy Cooperative
Custom Alarm
K&G Manufacturing
Cooperative Response Center, Inc.
Large Employer
(Over 150 employees)
Gemini, Inc.
Knutson Construction
Olmsted County
Riverland Community College
Benike Construction

To celebrate their achievements and the collective dedication to workforce development in Southeast Minnesota, Workforce Development Inc. invites the community to join us at the 2024 Workforce Development Forum celebration scheduled for Thursday, April 25th at the Rochester International Event Center. This event promises to be an inspiring gathering of industry leaders, stakeholders, and professionals committed to shaping the future of the region’s workforce and sharing their best practices.

Don’t miss this opportunity to celebrate excellence and be part of the conversation that drives innovation, growth, and prosperity in Southeast Minnesota. For questions about the 2024 Workforce Development Forum, contact Samantha Draisey at or register through this link!


Workforce Development, Inc. (WDI) is an independent, non-profit agency with a long history of serving the needs of career seekers and employers in Southeast Minnesota. Reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities provided, upon request, by calling 507.292.5152 or by using your preferred relay service. Workforce Development, Inc. is an Equal Opportunity Employer/Program Provider and a proud partner of the American Job Center Network.

PRESS RELEASE: Bridges to Healthcare receives Employment and Training Funds for the Southeast Region


Workforce Development, Inc., an independent, non-profit agency serving the needs of job seekers and employers in Southeast Minnesota, was recently awarded a direct appropriation for the Bridges to Healthcare program in the total amount of $1.5 million for state fiscal years 2024-2025.

This appropriation will continue to support our existing programming in Olmsted, Freeborn, Mower, and Steele counties. This will also support expansion efforts into Rice County and potential expansion plans to Goodhue and Winona Counties, following the same successful model that has been in place in Rochester since 2013.

The Bridges to Careers model has changed policies, curricula, support systems and institutional relationships. The Bridges model has been identified as a promising practice focused on career pathway programming with employer engagement by the US Department of Education and has been honored by both the Humphrey Institute and Harvard University.

The strong public/private partnerships between Workforce Development, Inc. (WDI), Adult Basic Education Centers (Rochester, Austin, Albert Lea, Owatonna, Faribault, and Red Wing), South Central College, Minnesota State College Southeast, Northfield Hospital and Mayo Clinic have built the foundation for another Bridges to Healthcare program in Southeast Minnesota to include other area long-term care employers. These partners have collaborated on program design, implementation, expansion, and financial/navigational support. They have teamed to recruit, prepare, and support diverse, well-trained, certified, and compassionate students and transition them to employment for Southeast Minnesota healthcare providers through the below process.

On an annual basis, Workforce Development, Inc. serves thousands of people through career planning and pre-vocational skill training. One area of focus of Workforce Development, Inc. is working with populations dealing with multiple barriers to achieving meaningful employment. Our mission is to develop and advance the workforce of Southeast Minnesota. Our vision is to develop and advance the workforce of Southeast Minnesota by acting as a champion for workers, a convening agent bringing partners together to solve workforce problems, a change agent to promote and facilitate innovation and creative solutions, and the agency accountable to the individuals, businesses and communities we serve, providing measurable change. We are a customer-focused, action-oriented team of professionals, dedicated to the principles of Respect, Integrity, Innovation, Education and Community.

Workforce Development, Inc. is an Equal Opportunity Employer/Service Provider Program and a proud partner of the American Job Center network. Reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities can be provided, upon request, by calling 507.292.5152 (voice) or by using your preferred relay service.

PRESS RELEASE: People of Color and Women are Encouraged to Enroll in New Trades Readiness Training program

Media Contacts
Emily Wessing                                                                Julie Brock
Executive Assistant/Marketing Coordinator                   Project Manager
507-252-6524 |                           507-421-6487 | .  

TAGS: @BloombergDotOrg and #MayorsChallenge, #rochmn

People of Color and Women are Encouraged to Enroll in
New Trades Readiness Training Program

August 10, 2023 – ROCHESTER, MINN. – A new Trades Readiness Certificate program through Workforce Development, Inc. begins on Tuesday, August 29, 2023. The Trades Readiness Training Program provides high quality, apprentice-level training to people interested in construction industry careers. People of color and women are encouraged to apply. Applicants must be 18 years or older, have a valid Minnesota driver’s license and meet minimum math and English assessments. Training will be offered for free to eligible applicants. To apply for the Trades Readiness Training Program contact Stacy Brumfield with Workforce Development, Inc. at 507-252-5159 or

In January 2022, Bloomberg Philanthropies selected the City of Rochester as a 2021-2022 Global Mayors Challenge winner of a $1 million grant and technical assistance to create career pathways for BIPOC women in the built environment. The new Trades Readiness Training Program is part of the implementation of the Equity in the Built Environment (EBE) program.

“This training is now the basis for the Equity in the Built Environment program. It can be entered at the top of fall, spring, or summer semester. Classes are on Tuesday and Thursday evenings, so participants can work during the day,” shares Julie Brock, Project Manager with Workforce Development, Inc. and City of Rochester for the EBE program. “We finally have a stable training that is offered consistently that will get people started on their (construction trades) career journey no matter the time of year.”

The City of Rochester and Destination Medical Center (DMC) funded construction projects have workforce participation goals for people of color (15%) and women (7%). Workforce participation performance for women on tracked City of Rochester and DMC projects from April 2017 through June 2023 has been 3.6%, about half of the goal. The number of BIPOC women participating in construction workforce on City and DMC projects has been less than 1%.

Workforce Development, Inc. in partnership with City of Rochester, Minnesota Department of Transportation, Minnesota Clean Cities and Rochester Community and Technical College announce the new Trades Readiness Training Program. All Workforce Development, Inc. services are free. They services include assessment, career planning, skills training, job search guidance and resources and preparation for further training and education. They also offer scholarships and connections to many programs in Southeast Minnesota.


PRESS RELEASE: Program that Focuses on Training Women, People of Color and Veterans for Careers in the Union Building and Construction Trades Expanding to Southeastern Minnesota

For Immediate Release                                                         

December 1, 2021   

Contact: Jenn Hathaway

Phone: 612.816.1710                                                                                     

Building Strong Communities, a Program that Focuses on Training Women, People of Color and Veterans for Careers in the Union and Construction Trades is Coming to Southeastern Minnesota

Rochester (December 1, 2021) – Building Strong Communities, a multi-trade, building and construction trades apprenticeship readiness program has recently expanded to become the first statewide apprenticeship readiness program designed to recruit and prepare women, people of color and veterans for a career in the building and construction industry. As part of the Building Strong Communities expansion statewide, BSC will begin programming in southeastern Minnesota in 2022.

Building Strong Communities is a program that prepares participants for a career in the construction industry by providing access to union endorsed training and an opportunity for participants to gain real experience and exposure to union building and construction trades. Training and online classes will be hosted by North Hennepin Community College.

“We are very excited to bring the Building Strong Communities program to southeastern Minnesota,” said Joe Fowler, President of the Minnesota Building and Construction Trades. “Building Strong Communities is a unique program that recruits women, people of color and veterans into building and construction trades with the goal of identifying a trade that participants can turn into a life-long career.”

“As we move into 2022 and the years ahead, the City of Rochester Public Works Department plans to build and maintain a diverse workforce,” states Director of Public Works Wendy Turri. “The expansion of the Building Strong Communities program into southeastern Minnesota is a promising step toward increasing the number of trained women, people of color and veterans for construction trades careers and positions with the City of Rochester Public Works Department.”

“Building Strong Communities is a complete introduction to the building and construction trades, it really opened my eyes to different opportunities,” said Edgar Chavira Rios, a member of the 2021 Building Strong Communities cohort. “After graduation from the BSC program, I was fully prepared for a career in the building and construction industry. I am now a member of the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades and have a career as a dry wall finisher.”

Jinny Rietmann, Executive Director of Workforce Development, Inc. shared, “Workforce Development, Inc. is excited to partner with Building Strong Communities. We look forward to bringing additional trades and construction training opportunities to individuals in Southeast Minnesota as this will not only address workforce challenges but will also increase diversity in this key industry sector.”

Building Strong Communities, formerly a partnership between Minneapolis Building and Construction Trades Council and the Metropolitan Council, is now a statewide program run by the Minnesota Building and Construction Trades. BSC has been run successfully in both the Twin Cities and Duluth.

WDI Success Story: Alex

Alex is a young man who email questions about the Pathways to Prosperity grant, specifically the Accelerated Welding class. His probation officer had given him the information and he was interested and wanted to know if he qualified for grant money. He was currently working as a chef in a local bar/restaurant.

We met and after talking about all the programs he decided that he was interested in the Computer Numerical Control (CNC) class instead.

Alex finished the Accelerated Welding class at MSC-Southeast Winona and had a job at Fastenal in Winona before he graduated. He will continue to go to school for CNC at Minnesota State College-Southeast Winona in a 2-year program, while working at Fastenal. They will reimburse him when he completes the semesters. Alex started work in March and has already been promoted at Fastenal.

This was a thank you note from Alex at the end of his class.

“I just wanted to say thank you for all the help and support I got from the Wabasha Workforce Development, Inc. office. I got the opportunity to take the CNC class and open the doors to a future in a CNC career. Right away I got a job at Fastenal and you continued to show me support and made sure that I had everything I need for work. I wasn’t sure what I was looking for in a job and you helped me find the perfect fit.” – Alex

I contacted him recently and asked if he would sign a release and if he would be OK with having a picture and his journey published. He signed the release, sent a picture, and this was his response: “Let me know if there is any other way I can help. I really appreciate everything you guys have done for me. I would love for the grant to continue so you can help as many people as possible. Hopefully they will all make the best of it. If there is anything more that I can do, I would love to help.”

Submitted by Kim Buysse, Career Navigator


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