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DEED Awards Three Grants to St. Cloud Technical and Community College to Match Skills with Business Needs

More than 700 employees from Talon Innovations, WFSI and New Flyer to receive training

January 28, 2014

Madeline Koch, 651-259-7236

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) awarded three grants totaling $950,000 under its Minnesota Job Skills Partnership (MJSP) to St. Cloud Technical and Community College to train hundreds of employees from Talon Innovations, WFSI Inc. and New Flyer of America Inc. in St. Cloud.

Last Friday, DEED Commissioner Katie Clark Sieben and Office of Higher Education Commissioner Larry Pogemiller spoke to the importance of Minnesota Job Skills Partnership opportunities with representatives from St. Cloud Technical and Community College (SCTCC) and St. Cloud businesses.

“The customized training provided by the Minnesota Job Skills Partnership Program creates an opportunity for workers to not only learn valuable skills for employment, but forms a stepping-stone for further career advancement,” Commissioner Sieben said.

MJSP works strategically with both businesses and educational institutions to train or retrain workers, to expand work opportunities and to keep high-quality jobs in the state. A total of $8.4 million in funding was proposed by Gov. Mark Dayton and allocated for the program during the 2013 legislative session.

“We appreciate the leadership of SCTCC President Joyce Helens and her faculty on this strong collaboration between postsecondary education and the local business community,” Commissioner Pogemiller said.

The program awarded more than $5 million to train 6,549 workers from 33 businesses in Minnesota for the fiscal year that ended June 30. Officials estimate the program will attract an additional $13 million from participating businesses and educational institutions.

The MJSP grants include:

SCTCC, New Flyer of America Inc. - $375,000
The grant will support entry-level and advanced training for 567 current and new assemblers, welders, inspectors, fuel station operators and managers. New Flyer, the leading manufacturer of heavy-duty transit buses in the United States and Canada, anticipates hiring 166 new employees over the next three years. New Flyer is introducing their streamlined MiDi bus in a joint venture, and SCTCC and the company will jointly develop customized training for production employees who will be working on both heavy-duty and medium-duty buses. New hires will receive training in basic core skills; new hires and current employees will receive advanced core skills training. Training will be available at the worksite or the school.

SCTCC, Talon Innovations - $275,000
The partnership with SCTCC will allow Talon Innovations Corp. to expand their medical device manufacturing capabilities by training 100 current and 20 new employees and to meet company production and expansion objectives. New hires will be trained as machine operators. Current machine operators will be trained as machinists, then machine programmers. The entire workforce will be trained in Lean/Six Sigma. Located in Sauk Rapids, Talon is a precision machined products company working in the medical, aerospace and semiconductor industries.

SCTCC, WFSI Inc. - $300,000
Sauk Rapids-based WFSI is nationally recognized for fabricating and assembling critically welded components for the oil and nuclear industries. WFSI currently has 48 employees and plans to add 32 new jobs in the next three years. The total WFSI workforce of 80 will receive training to advance their welding skills and support the company expansion. WFSI supervisors will receive leadership training.

DEED is the state’s principal economic development agency, promoting business recruitment, expansion and retention, workforce development, international trade and community development. For more details about the agency and our services, visit us at Follow us on Twitter at

Grant signing ceremony

From left to right, Tom Becker, president of WFSI; Matthew Keil,
dean of trade and industry at St. Cloud Technical and Community College;
and Katie Clark Sieben, commissioner of DEED; signed documents last week
that finalized a $300,000 grant under the Minnesota Job Skills Partnership.
The funding will enable Sauk Rapids-based WFSI to add 32 jobs in the next
three years and advance employee welding skills.