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The Sleepy Eye Herald Dispatch - Sleepy Eye, MN
  • Manufacturing breakfast allows local businesses to discuss topics

  • On Thursday, Oct. 24, in recognition of Minnesota Manufacturer Week, the Sleepy Eye Chamber of Commerce held an informal gathering for Chamber members who are connected with the manufacturing field.
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  • On Thursday, Oct. 24, in recognition of Minnesota Manufacturer Week, the Sleepy Eye Chamber of Commerce held an informal gathering for Chamber members who are connected with the manufacturing field.
     
    Senator Gary Dahms, Rep. Paul Torkelson, City Manager Mark Kober and Mayor Jim Broich briefed the group of current events happening in and around Sleepy Eye and encouraged all parties to discuss legislative policy and topics affecting businesses on a state and local level.
     
    One of the biggest topics discussed was how to promote Sleepy Eye as a great place to live, work and play.
    According to Sen. Dahms, between now and 2015, there will be 55,000 jobs available in the agriculture sector that require two and four year degrees in the US. Current projections show that there are approximately 29,000 students who will graduate with a degree in agriculture in that time period.
     
    “If we take all the students who have a touch in the agriculture industry, we are still 1,000 jobs short,” Dahms noted. "Yet the expectation of agriculture is that by the year 2050 we will have to double the amount of food we produce. The question is how do we reach out and get more students interested in agriculture?” 
     
    Dahms went on to say those agriculture jobs will be in rural communities like Sleepy Eye.
     
    Rep. Torkelson said that while people with technical trade degrees are on the rise, small towns like Sleepy Eye also need to recruit professionals to rural Minnesota.
     
    “We need to do a better job at promoting how great small town life is,” Torkelson said. “It’s a big issue and for the health of greater Minnesota we need to do what we can to solve that dilemma.” 
     
    One way Sleepy Eye is working on that issue is with the On the Job Training (OJT) program that was implemented by the Sleepy Eye Economic Development Authority (EDA) in 2012.
     
    The program allows high school juniors and seniors a chance to explore local job fields before they leave town for higher education. The program is also a chance for students to see that there is a workforce available to them in their hometown after college.
     
    Currently, OJT is set up to offer upper classman from the local schools an opportunity to interview for and work at local businesses for high school credits and show students that there are jobs available in their hometown after they graduate from college.
     
    For some, its a way to have them explore potential careers before they go to college. In the program students learn how to interview for jobs, take part in the interview process and go on to potentially be hired for the position they interviewed for while receiving high school credits.
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    Currently around 10 local businesses are participating in the program.
     
    “The trend seems to be that students are moving away. This is opportunity for them to see there is a lot of opportunity to pursue and potentially return to Sleepy Eye for employment after higher education training,” said EDA Director Kurk Kramer.
     
    Mayor Jim Broich added that younger students need to know that there is a lot to offer in Sleepy Eye after high school.
     
    “Recently we have seen younger people coming back to Sleepy Eye to work and raise families so it’s working,” Broich said. “The City of Sleepy Eye has a lot of amenities to offer and one doesn’t have to look far.” 
     
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