Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)

Celebrating Black History Month at DEED

Black History Month is an important occasion for our state not only to uplift and celebrate the achievements and history of African Americans, but also to recommit ourselves to investing in Black Minnesotans and building a state where everyone has the opportunity to thrive.

Indeed, as Governor Walz noted in proclaiming February as Black History Month: "We must reflect on our collective past, reveal its impact on present conditions, and implement equitable solutions for a more just future."

At DEED, our mission is to empower the growth of the Minnesota economy, for everyone. We take seriously our responsibility to create an equitable, inclusive economy where Black Minnesotans have clear pathways to economic prosperity – whether by starting a business, developing new work-ready skills or entering the workforce and looking for a job.

We have an historic opportunity to grow economic prosperity in our Black community, and I'm excited to lead DEED as we continue serving Black Minnesotans in the months and years ahead. This Black History Month, DEED has worked hard to deliver on this goal – as we do every single day of the year.

One Minnesota Job Fair and BIPOC Expo

One of the first events we joined in 2024 was the One Dream, One Minnesota Career Fair in recognition of Martin Luther King Jr. Day in January. We were one of 33 state agencies or offices that participated in the job fair, where 1,200 jobseekers stopped by to learn about job opportunities throughout State government.

DEED also participated in February's BIPOC Expo in Minneapolis, where we provided attendees with information on our programs and initiatives. At both events, we were excited to meet with Black Minnesotans and share more information about career opportunities at DEED and services we provide to employers and workers alike.

Black Entrepreneurs Day at the Capitol

On Feb. 16, we were proud to support the second-annual Black Entrepreneurs Day at the Capitol, organized by Sheletta Brundidge, the founder and CEO of the ShelettaMakesMeLaugh podcast and production company. (As I've said before, I can vouch for the truth of Sheletta's podcast name!) At the event, DEED Small Business & Innovation Director Neela Mollgaard facilitated breakout sessions for entrepreneurs and small businesses. It was an opportunity to listen to the needs of businesses and share DEED resources on everything from programming to funding.

DEIAB in Action

This February, our monthly Workforce Wednesday gathering was a conversation on ways workplaces can double down on their commitment to Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, Accessibility and Belonging (DEIAB). When it comes to ensuring their commitment to workplace diversity, it's important companies and leaders back up their words with actions. During our Workforce Wednesday conversation, DEED facilitated a discussion on strategies to implement effective, meaningful DEIAB initiatives.

Grantmaking to Grow Minnesota's Diverse Workforce

Throughout February, DEED's workforce development division has been working hard to implement historic new programs to invest in Minnesota's Black workforce.

The team has been reviewing applications for DEED's Targeted Populations Workforce Programs initiative, a $50 million effort to provide skills training and support services to populations of workers who have been historically overlooked and often face multiple barriers to employment – particularly people of color. We expect to make grant announcements for this program in the weeks ahead.

We continue to solicit proposals for our new Clean Economy Equitable Workforce initiative, a workforce development program focused on preparing workers who are Black, Indigenous or People of Color for good-paying construction-related jobs in the growing clean energy and energy efficiency fields. You can learn more and apply on our Competitive Grants and RFPs page.

DEED's Five Racial Equity Commitments

All of DEED's work is driven by a commitment to racial equity that is built into the foundational infrastructure of our organization.

In 2022 DEED established our five racial equity commitments: drive more funding to historically underserved populations; reform government programs that have left out Black workers and business owners for too long; increase outreach and engagement programs for Black workers and Black-owned businesses; embed equity into the work of every team at DEED; and ensure equity is reflected in our internal teams and processes.

We are fully engaged in carrying out these priorities. Indeed, one of the three Objectives and Key Results DEED is pursuing and measuring this year is to "empower Minnesota to create an economy rooted in equity - across every race, identity and ability."

This Black History Month, I'm inspired by the contributions of Black entrepreneurs and workers to Minnesota's economy. And I'm resolved to make sure we're following through on our commitment to current and future generations of Black Minnesotans. I invite you to join us in advancing this mission every day of the year!


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