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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