NYM EDA hears of new jobs program

By Chad Koenen


A person doesn’t have to go too far without seeing a help wanted sign hanging up in the window of a business. How businesses can fill those open positions is becoming even more challenging by the day.

During its regularly scheduled meeting last week, the New York Mills EDA heard from Amy Johnson and Amy Baldwin from Otter Tail County, about a new youth workforce program in the county. 

Johnson gave the NY Mills EDA an overview of the new program that is aimed at building relationships with youth to not only show them what is available in the area today, but what could be available should they want to move back to the region in the future. 

“The goal is really to get these students into the workforce in Otter Tail County so they learn what is here,” she said.

As part of the program, Johnson is visiting with all of the school districts in Otter Tail County to find out what services can be provided to help build relationships between students and businesses in the region. She said there are already programs available to help get students involved in the manufacturing industry, but the goal is to expand upon those programs to other businesses as well. 

Baldwin said many school districts are receptive to the opportunity to bring more career learning into the classroom, but are looking for a single point of contact to bridge the gap between employers and the school districts. 

“We found there is a strong interest at the school…but sometimes it is where do we start,” she said of a concern from the school districts.

Johnson said a new online portal could be available this summer to provide a one stop shop for businesses and school districts to partner for things like tours, interviews, classroom speakers and provide businesses a way to donate items to career labs and classrooms. 

In other news

• Heard an update on the Otter Tail County Big Build program. The program aims to establish 5,000 new, preserved or significantly rehabbed housing units by 2025. The county is 30 percent of its way to completing that goal. The program started in 2021. 

• Heard about the continued challenge of building affordable homes in the county. Baldwin said one of the biggest challenges for developers was helping to fund the new infrastructure needed to complete affordable housing projects. She said the county is working on several projects to help make the housing projects more affordable for developers.