Grant to further County’s Empowered Worker Program

Otter Tail County was awarded a $250,000 Drive for 5 Grant from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED). 

The grant funding will be used to further the County’s Empowered Worker Program. This program will grow the area’s workforce by providing skills training and resource navigation for individuals to overcome employment barriers and enter high-demand, household-sustaining wage jobs.

DEED’s Drive for 5 workforce initiative is a new effort to prepare more Minnesotans for high-demand jobs in five occupational categories: technology, the trades, caring professions, manufacturing, and education. Drive for 5 will benefit Minnesotans who want to join the labor force in these in-demand fields and who need training and employment assistance. It will benefit Minnesota’s economy by preparing people for in-demand careers and meeting the needs of employers.

“Today is a big day for Minnesota workers and Minnesota employers. The grantees announced today will engage together in a holistic approach that will closely align training with sector skills needs —while targeting family-sustaining, high-demand, career-path employment,” said DEED Commissioner Matt Varilek.

Otter Tail County’s Empowered Worker Program is creating partnerships with:

• Minnesota State Community and Technical College to provide training and certifications

• Service organizations to navigate employment resources

• Employers in the selected industries of trades, manufacturing, and caring professions to employ workers

The program aligns with the County’s ‘OTC Works’ workforce strategy to create partnerships that improve occupational readiness, reduce barriers to employment, and align skills for future workforce needs.

“The Drive for 5 Grant will provide a notable kickstart to the Empowered Worker Program. In the development of this program, we have heard from employers and workforce partners that this program to provide training and navigate employment resources is important and needed,” said Otter Tail County Board Chair Kurt Mortenson.