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Technology Workforce Month was Focus of April Immigrant and Refugee Affairs Forum


April 12, 2021

April’s Immigrant and Refugee Forum had an engaging discussion surrounding Technology WorkForce Month in Minnesota. The Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs at the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) hosts these forums the first Tuesday of every month to bring together immigrant and refugee community advocates, business owners, elders and leaders.

Deputy Commissioner Hamse Warfa helped kick off our discussion of Tech Month with his experience in co-founding a blockchain technology company that provides a digital, transaction-based identity for millions of people who were previously disconnected from the global economy. He also addressed the talent gap in the tech industry with BIPOC community members and gave an overview on current pilot initiatives working to narrow that gap.

You can see all the virtual events for Technology Workforce Month on We’d also like to call out a technology jobs career fair on April 27 at 7:30 am, register now.

Immigrant and Refugee Employer Documentation Resources

Patricia Fenrick from the Department of Human Services’ Resettlement Programs Office talked about the work her office does to build programs for the well-being for refugees and immigrants across Minnesota. Their office funds a statewide refugee and immigrant help line staffed Monday through Friday from 9-5 at 651-318-0989 with multiple languages available to ensure there is access to accurate and timely information about the COVID-19 pandemic as well as providing other needed resources. She also gave information on the different distinctions among immigration statuses and what that means for work status and documents for employment authorization. She talked about the important contributions immigrant and refugee workers give to Minnesota’s economy via their skills, labor and ideas and shared examples of different employment authorized documentation needed to work in Minnesota. Resources Fenrick shared included an employer resource brochure that provides best practices and support for employers. You can find more resources on their website.

Launch Minnesota Overview

Launch Minnesota Director, Neela Mollgaard gave an overview of the work that Launch Minnesota is doing to support and grow the tech startup community in Minnesota. Launch MN follows three key goals of capital, culture and talent. Thanks to their Launch Innovation grants, they’ve awarded $2.8 million in 88 grants with 59% of the grantees coming from BIPOC, women, Greater Minnesota and Veteran populations. To help create a collaborative culture, Launch MN created the Launch MN Network that is made of 8 hubs, throughout 6 regions and over 80 partners. This hub and spoke model has been recognized at the national level by the Small Business Association. Launch MN also helps develop talent and expertise through various efforts such as the Lean Startup model and the University of MN’s Discovery LaunchPad MN. These programs help create a pipeline for entrepreneurs access to resources, talent and capital that will help them succeed. You can learn more about available programs for startups on the Launch Minnesota website. You can also sign up for the Launch MN newsletter for the latest updates.

Career Opportunities in Tech

HR business Partner Justin Hubbard at Entegris provided some background on the global semiconductor manufacturing company. Their Chaska and Bloomington production facilities focus on the advanced materials handling portion of their business. Their Bloomington location is currently one of the suppliers for medical grade quality bags that are used for COVID-19 vaccine manufacturing process for Moderna. Their Chaska location manufactures products to protect, transport, and deliver critical liquid chemistries from a supplier to point of use for a broad set of applications in the semiconductor industry. They have lots of job openings at and some of the open jobs include manufacturing operator, warehouse worker, injection molding setup technician, injection molding mold maker and manufacturing engineer.

Human Resource recruiters, James Houston and Lacey Golonka of Xcel Energy shared with the group background on the electric and natural gas company as well as the available opportunities to career seekers. Their company’s mission is to provide customers, the safe clean, reliable energy services they want and value at a competitive price. They currently have around 50 openings in Minnesota. These different type of opportunities include internships, corporate level jobs in IT/Cyber, accounting, consultants, business performance, planning and purchasing as well as operations positions like project managers, operations supervisors, operations managers, governance and controls, strategy and performance consultant – Electric Transportation. You can find a list of all their available jobs on their website here. They also mentioned the inclusion and diversity programs created at Xcel to empower all their employees. You can find more about their inclusion and diversity efforts on their website here. You can contact James Houston or Lacey Golonka at with any questions when applying for their positions.

In case you missed this month’s forum, you can watch on DEED’s YouTube channel here. We’ve also created an IRA resource page on DEED’s website where you can find information regarding upcoming forums, blog posts and other helpful resources for immigrant and refugees.


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