Red Lake Nation News - Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)

Summer of Jobs Visits Thief River Falls


August 22, 2022

This week we were excited to take our "Summer of Jobs" campaign to Thief River Falls to visit some of Minnesota's manufacturing powerhouses in the northwest region. Given historic workforce shortages and an economy filled with opportunity, our campaign focuses on:

1. Showcasing the thousands of amazing jobs available in Minnesota.

2. Amplifying the many sources of labor that employers often overlook.

3. Highlighting the innovation and best practices in workforce development from businesses, jobseekers, and communities.

Digi-Key Expansion Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

I was thrilled to take part in Digi-Key's Production Distribution Center Expansion grand opening ceremony. Their company recently added 2.2 million square feet of multi-level distribution space to their existing 800,000-square-foot distribution center. That's large enough to fit 22 football fields! Headquartered in Thief River Falls, Digi-Key Electronics is recognized as both a leader and continuous innovator in the high service distribution of electronic components and automation products worldwide. Founded in 1972, Digi-Key was a pioneer in the mail-order catalog business and a key resource for design engineers. Today, Digi-Key offers the world's largest selection of electronic components in stock and available for immediate shipment. It's exciting to see Digi-Key continue to grow its operations in northwest Minnesota. This expansion is projected to add 1,000 jobs over the next years, and it shows that you can have a global headquarters (and build what matters!) anywhere in Minnesota.

Tour of Textron (Arctic Cat)

Next up, I toured Textron's Arctic Cat manufacturing facilities. Arctic Cat is a classic Minnesota company that's synonymous with outdoor winter adventures thanks to their world-famous snowmobiles and ATVs. It was great to see their operations and meet with some of their employees. Manufacturing is a critically important industry in the Thief River Falls area and throughout northwest Minnesota. There are approximately 28,000 jobs at more than 820 manufacturers in this region alone. Breaking it down, that means one in every seven jobs in northwest Minnesota is in manufacturing, making it the second largest employing industry behind only health care & social assistance.

Economic Development Roundtable with Community and Business Leaders

I was honored to have Mayor Brian Holmer and the Thief River Falls City Council host us for a roundtable discussion around workforce and economic development challenges in their region. Right now, Minnesota has the lowest unemployment rate of any state – ever. And that's great news. But this tight labor market presents a real challenge to employers looking to hire more workers, serve their customers, and keep growing. Being a small business owner himself, Mayor Holmer knows first-hand the importance of a growing and retaining a skilled workforce for his region. The mayor mentioned that a skilled workforce, childcare and housing are like a three-legged stool because you need all three in order to support a growing economy. These systemic issues can't be solved overnight, but by working together with strategic partnerships we know we can keep local businesses growing, customers fulfilled, and Minnesotans employed in good-paying jobs and advancing through long-lasting careers.

CareerForce Visit

While I was in the area, I made a stop at DEED's CareerForce location, which is housed within Northland Community & Technical College. In fact, this is one of six CareerForce locations around the state that is located on a community college campus. I was excited to meet with CareerForce team members and workforce development partners, and afterward we did a walk-through of their space. So far this year, they've served 260 jobs seekers – primarily through individual assistance in person or via phone appointments.

These Summer of Jobs tour stops, job shadows, and insightful conversations with local leaders and businesses are critical in helping DEED better understand what employers and job-seekers need right now.


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