St. Cloud State University and two St. Cloud area businesses celebrated workforce development grants totaling more than $528,442 with a signing ceremony Dec. 14 at the St. Cloud State Welcome Center.
St. Cloud State, in partnership with Eye-Kraft and Sand Companies, earned a $278,442 training grant and $250,000 training grant respectively. These grants were awarded to St. Cloud State from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) in October under the Minnesota Job Skills Partnership.
As part of the grant, St. Cloud State is partnering with local industry companies to strengthen their workforce and will provide customized training to help them maintain their competitive edge in their industries and meet future demands.
Each company will acquire training customized to its specific needs and equipment in order to develop a workforce with cutting-edge knowledge and skills. Eye-Kraft, Sand Companies and St. Cloud State will partner with St. Cloud Technical & Community College (SCTCC) and Ridgewater Community College to deliver customized training.
President Robbyn Wacker spoke about how St. Cloud State University is proud to work with amazing Minnesota companies to help enhance the skills of their current workforce and new hires.
“Investing in our employees and their skills is crucial”, said Jason Sharpe, president of Eye-Kraft, which is looking to expand its workforce by 30%. “We’re here with gratitude and excitement.”
The training the grant provides will help Sand Companies to retain and support current associates and maximize use of current and new technologies, said Mike Wendel, hospitality president for Sand Companies.
Following the remarks, Sharpe, Sand Companies President Nikki Sand and St. Cloud State’s Dr. Claudia Tomany, associate provost for research and sponsored programs and dean of Graduate Studies signed the grant partnership agreement. The grants are intended to have three outcomes:
- The incumbent worker is gaining skills they can carry with them
- The company is gaining a stronger workforce with enhanced skills specific to their industry
- St. Cloud State, SCTCC, and Ridgewater are gaining increased capacity to develop and deliver new programming that can be used by other businesses
Eye-Kraft is an independent, family-owned wholesale ophthalmic laboratory in St. Cloud manufacturing eyeglasses and accessories for eye care providers across Minnesota and nationally. Eye-Kraft will be adding $1.6 million in equipment and facilities expansions and anticipating a 30% employment growth.
As an industry leader in 13 states, Sand is a fully integrated design, development, construction and management company in Waite Park for both hotel management and residential property management. To remain competitive, Sand intends to develop their associates while maximizing the use of cutting-edge technology tools enabling them to use integrative real-estate, property management and construction building tools and software.
St. Cloud State University’s Center for Continuing Studies partners with businesses to offer professional development, customized training and host conferences and events. Continuing Studies features experts in leadership, communication, project management, continuous improvement and more Experts provide professional development training in partnership with companies and programs for individuals seeking to accelerate their success and skills through workshops, short courses and industry-recognized certificate programs. The St. Cloud State Center for Continuing Studies has partnered with 13 companies on grants totaling $3.3 million since 2011 and serving almost 4,000 employees with customized training.