(Moorhead, Mn) — August, 2022 – The Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber Foundation has been awarded a $9.62 million Economic Development Administration (EDA) Good Jobs Challenge Grant. The Chamber Foundation, in collaboration with backbone organizations such as Grand Farm Research and Education Initiative, North Dakota State College of Science, Emerging Prairie, University of Mary, and Workbay will bolster the region’s economy by developing the skilled workforce needed to support the regional agriculture, manufacturing and technology industries.
In partnership with local employers, The Chamber Foundation will ensure that training programs meet the unique skill needs of our local employers and the regional economy. With a focus on underserved communities – including people of color, immigrants, veterans and military spouses, justice-involved individuals – the grant will allow The Chamber Foundation and its partners to provide a variety of wraparound services and reduce barriers to starting and completing training.
The Good Jobs Challenge Grant was a very competitive process with only 32 projects awarded out of over 500 applications nationwide. Of that, this was the only awarded EDA grant out of 20 applications submitted by organizations in Minnesota and North Dakota. 78 letters of support were submitted on behalf of employers in the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo region.
“This is a historic day for our region and for the states of Minnesota and North Dakota,” said The Chamber’s President & CEO Shannon Full. “With workforce as the number one challenge facing our companies and our communities, The Good Jobs Challenge Grant will provide critical funding to enable our region to begin to develop a systematic, collective approach to the workforce needs. We are excited for the challenge that lies ahead of us and are looking forward to working with all of our partners.”
The Ignite Initiative Regional Workforce Training System (IIRWTS) is a collaborative approach to addressing the metro area’s most pressing workforce needs. The IIRWTS addresses several barriers that prevent or discourage members of underserved populations from enrolling in skill training programs. Over the next three years, the region can expect over 900 participants to receive training through the program.
Jenna Mueller, executive director of The Chamber Foundation said, “The IIRWTS is a cross-sector approach that will develop and retain our workforce across three of our high-demand industries. Together with our education, business, and non-profit partners, we will train, retain, and enhance our talent pipeline. The IIRWTS will positively impact at least 900 individuals and our regional economy.”
“Our agricultural, manufacturing and information technology sectors are key to the economic success of communities across northwest Minnesota and North Dakota,” said U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (MN). “These resources will help workers access the skills and training they need to pursue careers in these critical fields.”
“I’m thrilled to hear the Ignite Initiative Regional Workforce Training System led by the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber of Commerce will receive significant funding from the EDA’s highly competitive Good Jobs Challenge. Almost 80 local employers are in support of this initiative, which will prepare over 900 people for jobs with projected wages ranging between $45,000 and $75,000 and wage growth potential beyond $100,000,” said U.S. Senator Tina Smith (MN). “The Chamber’s vision is innovative, hands-on and is exactly the type of work we need being done to create greater economic opportunity for people across the community.”
“Our administration was pleased to support the Ignite Initiative Regional Workforce Training System to provide innovative training opportunities for workers in the high-demand fields of agriculture, advanced manufacturing and cybersecurity,” North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum said. “Congratulations to the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo Chamber Foundation and its education, business and nonprofit partners on securing this grant, which will allow our state to support workers in finding good-paying jobs they want and help employers find the skilled workers they need.”
“This grant award highlights that we are a part of a community that collaborates and creates solutions together,” said Greg Tehven, CEO and co-founder of Emerging Prairie. “We are thankful for the Chamber Foundation’s leadership for our region, and Emerging Prairie is looking forward to serving our community to ensure training programs meet the unique skills and needs of our local technology community.”
“We’re excited to partner on this meaningful project to strengthen the skilled workforce needed to support advanced technology in agriculture. This work will have a lasting positive impact guided through great community partners,” said Brian Carroll, director of Grand Farm. “Grand Farm was formed to amplify and build upon the strengths of our region and this project will work to do just that.”
“NDSCS looks forward to continuing to partner with the FMWF Chamber more closely and strengthening our student support services with our community resources to support our students in providing educational and training opportunities to meet our regional workforce needs,” said NDSCS Vice President of Instructional Affairs Lisa Karch.
“We are honored to participate in this important grant,” remarked Rachael Brash, executive director for University of Mary Online. “The University of Mary looks forward to providing education and workforce training through our shared efforts. With locations across the state, we are uniquely prepared to meet the workforce demands and serve the needs of our region.”
“Workbay provides a community-wide platform and infrastructure for increasing equitable access to opportunity through innovative tools for training, on-boarding, and promotion,” said Workbay COO & Cofounder Alice Hayes. “We are proud to be supporting The Chamber’s Good Jobs initiative by providing skills in Agriculture and Food Production, Manufacturing and Information Technology, integrated to real job opportunities of the future, supported by our employer partners.”
The Chamber Foundation will be holding a community-wide press conference and celebration in mid-August. Elected officials from Minnesota and North Dakota, along with business and nonprofit partners, stakeholders and community members will be invited to attend.
About The Chamber Foundation
The Chamber Foundation strengthens the Fargo Moorhead West Fargo regional workforce ecosystem by activating community partners to engage in innovative approaches to solving our region’s pressing issues. We concentrate on workforce and talent:
- Acclimation | Intentionally engaging with new residents to make the region their home.
- Development & Retention | Building and retaining strong talent pipelines through career and leadership skill development.
- Diversity, Equity & Inclusion | Striving to integrate welcoming and inclusive practices within our community.