West Central Blogger

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Career discovery from outer space to out your backyard

Area students in 7th-9th grades will have a chance to talk to an astronaut and tour some of the many industries in the Fergus Falls area on Thursday, Oct. 16 as part of Career Discovery Day.

The daylong event kicks off at MSCTC-Fergus Falls with a keynote audio hook-up with astronaut Karen Nyberg, who flew the space shuttle this year. From there, students and parents will take field trips to some of this region’s key businesses in technology, energy and healthcare.

The $5 tuition includes bus transportation from the college campus to sites in and around Fergus Falls, plus a sack lunch featuring local food products.

And kids won’t even miss a day of school.

"We chose October 16 because kids will have that day open because of their MEA break," says Cary Bergo of Rural MN CEP, Fergus Falls WorkForce Center, one of the organizers of the event. "Kids can choose a discovery track in the areas of technology, healthcare or energy and see not only how things are made, but get to meet the people in those jobs. And we’re not taking them away from school; on the contrary, we hope parents will find this to be valuable learning time for their kids."

Parents are welcome to spend the day with their child exploring this area’s business and industry leaders. Tours and presentations will be given by StoneL, Otter Tail Power, Sara Lee, Vinylite, Otter Tail Ag, Thiele Technology and Lake Region Hospital. Students choosing to take the Healthcare discovery trail will also be introduced to the Fergus Falls - MSCTC Nursing Program’s SIM man.

Space is limited so early registration is suggested. Students in 7th, 8th and 9th grades within about 30 miles of Fergus Falls are eligible.

Register your child (and yourself!) and learn more.

This exciting event is made possible through a workforce development pilot project grant by the West Central Initiative.

WCI welcomes Greg Wagner

The WCI staff and board are pleased to welcome Greg Wagner as our new ecomonic development planner. He will be assisting communities across west central Minnesota with economic development and community development issues. As part of that work, he will help communities apply for federal economic development funding and will share best practices in community planning and development.

Greg is a hometown boy--he grew up in Fergus Falls. He has a
Bachelor of Arts degree in local and urban affairs from St. Cloud State University. Most recently, he served as planner for the booming town of Baxter, Minn., so he has plenty of experience working with developers, residents and public officials.

Feel free to stop by WCI to meet Greg. But don't worry if you don't; he plans to start visiting area communities soon.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Put U of M-Morris students to work for your community!

The "Connecting Students and Communities" (CSC) program provides a University of Minnesota, Morris undergraduate student to help local units of government, K-12 schools, or community-based organizations in the areas of research, project administration, or other support. Students benefit from working with different organizations and learn ways to complete project goals.

The program is offered by the Center for Small Towns (CST) at the University of Minnesota, Morris, and the University of Minnesota West Central Regional Sustainable Development Partnership to 12 west central Minnesota counties -- Big Stone, Chippewa, Douglas, Grant, Kandiyohi, Lac qui Parle, Pope, Renville, Stevens, Swift, Traverse, and Yellow Medicine -- are encouraged to apply. The deadline to apply for this free assistance is November 7, 2008.

Priority is given to projects that include:
  • Community-based renewable energy
  • Local and healthy foods
  • Healthy landscapes and water

  • Natural- and cultural-based tourism

  • Economic development

  • Other project areas will also be considered.

The student will be available for up to 10 hours a week during Spring semester from January 20, 2009 (or the time of student hiring) through May 8, 2009.

Download the CSC application online at the Center for Small Towns web site.

Deadline for the application is NOVEMBER 7, 2008. For more information contact Jessica Beyer at (320) 589-6451 or jbeyer@mrs.umn.edu

Friday, September 19, 2008

Make it safe (and cool!) to walk to school

Few kids walk or bike to school any more.

In 1969, approximately 50% of children walked or bicycled to school, with approximately 87% of children living within one mile of school walking or bicycling. Today, fewer than 15% of schoolchildren walk or bicycle to school. As a result, kids today are less active, less independent, and less healthy. As much as 20 to 30% of morning traffic can be generated by parents driving their children to schools, and traffic-related crashes are the top cause of death and major injury for children in the U.S. ages 1 to 17.
Safe Routes to School is a new program in the federal transportation bill, SAFETEA –LU, designed to improve the conditions and quality of bicycling and walking to school. The goal of the program is to reverse the 30-year decline in the numbers of children walking to school and reintroduce opportunities for regular physical activity.

The Minnesota Dept. of Transportation has Safe Routes funds available for schools with any combination of K-8 enrollment to make infrastructure improvements, such as bike racks and sidewalks, and for noninfrastructure programs such as developing Safe Routes Plans, enforcement, and promoting biking and walking to and from school. Learn more.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Growth opportunities for area businesses

Check out these great upcoming opportunities for businesses:
  • Have you wondered how you can sell your product to the government? If you have, consider attending "Introduction to Government Contracting" Oct. 13 at MSU Moorhead. Learn more or register online.
  • The Small Business Development Center in Moorhead is presenting "The Seven Habits of Small Business Owners" on Oct. 16-17. Learn more or register online.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Funding available for area transportation enhancement projects

The West Central Minnesota Area Transportation Partnership is seeking applications for the 2013 Transportation Enhancement Program, which has approximately $600,000 available for eligible projects in Mahnomen, Clay, Becker, Wilkin, Otter Tail, Grant, Douglas, Stevens, Traverse, Pope, Big Stone and Swift counties. Projects require a 20 percent cash match.

Eligible transportation enhancement projects are:

  • Pedestrian and bicycle facilities
  • Pedestrian and bicycle safety and educational activities
  • Acquisition of scenic or historic easements and sites
  • Scenic or historic highway programs, including tourist and welcome centers
  • Landscaping and scenic beautification
  • Historic preservation
  • Rehabilitation and operation of historic transportation buildings, structures or facilities
  • Conversion of abandoned railway corridors to trails
  • Inventory, control, and removal of outdoor advertising
  • Archaeological planning and research
  • Environmental mitigation of runoff pollution and provision of wildlife connectivity
  • Establishment of transportation museums

Information on the Transportation Enhancements Funds, including a guidebook and fact sheets on the 12 eligible activities, can be found at: http://www.enhancements.org/.

Learn more.

Friday, September 5, 2008

The employment potential of older workers

Employers are getting nervous. Their Baby Boomer workforce is heading toward retirement en masse. And new and younger workers aren't getting trained in fast enough. Plus there's a shortage of workers in many industry sectors. What's an employer to do?

Find creative ways to retain older workers a while longer or hire even more older workers are a couple of solutions. Plus, make sure the vast knowledge and skills they have are passed on to the next generation of workers.

These are the issues and ideas that will be presented at "The Employment Potential of Older Workers: Recruitment, Retention and Knowledge Transfer" on Sept. 22 in Fergus Falls. The event will be held 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Bigwood Event Center, and the $10 cost includes lunch.

The event is sponsored by the Labor Force Development Council of west central Minnesota.

Visit West Central Initiative's Web site for more information and to register.