As backers of a proposed Grand Forks career and technical education center try to beat a fundraising deadline to collect $10 million, a local economic development organization has announced another $300,000 donated this week.
According to the Grand Forks Region Economic Development Corp., three donations of more than $75,000 each were committed in the past few days, including $125,000 from Lunseth Plumbing and Heating Company, $100,000 from the Grand Forks Herald and $75,000 from C.L. Linfoot.
“We continue to be grateful for the momentum of the investments coming in, and that our community partners recognize the very important role the Career Impact Academy will have on workforce development for decades to come,” said Keith Lund, president and CEO of the EDC.
A broad group of community leaders, including those representing the school district and the EDC, are working under a Dec. 1 deadline to raise $10 million in order to qualify for another $10 million in state funding.
The career and tech center, they hope, can ease those workforce shortages. If it’s built, it would exist somewhere between a trade school and a junior college and a university, helping steer students toward curriculum and careers that match them up with local employers. Research shows that local employers point to a continuing workforce shortage as a central hurdle to their respective growth and also to economic development in the community in general.
The center, as described by the EDC, “will provide learners with real-world, hands-on learning spaces to explore high-wage, in-demand career fields in the Grand Forks region. The academy will offer students specialized training, allowing them to become career ready or college prepared.”
The EDC announced the three latest donations Friday morning, a week after announcing a $1 million donation from Altru Health System, $100,000 from True North Equipment and $50,000 from JLG Architects. The EDC also has committed $500,000.
So far, more than $4.5 million has been raised.
“We have been grateful for the community support over the years, and this is a terrific way to give back to the community and continue to help build our future here,” said David Kvidt, president of Lunseth Plumbing and Heating.
The Herald’s $100,000 comes with aid from its parent company, Forum Communications Co.
"The Herald's owners, the Marcil family, are big believers in economic development and they understand what a strong economy can mean for a region," said Herald Publisher Korrie Wenzel. "But without a workforce to fill the jobs that come with that economic development, what good is it? This region needs to develop more workers, and it needs to develop workers specific to the jobs we'll need here in the future. Technical education is needed, and the Herald is proud to make this donation on behalf of Forum Communications' continued support of the region and its economy."
Dan Mulroy, owner of C.L. Linfoot, said his company’s donation is about “investing in my company’s future as well as the Grand Forks workforce.”
“The more opportunities we have to showcase various career paths to students in our region, the more our community will prosper in workforce and business growth in the long run,” he said.