Sanford Health has committed $1 million to a proposed technical academy in Grand Forks, pushing the total amount of committed money well past $9 million.

The announcement of the million-dollar gift, along with 15 other recent donations, came Friday morning, Nov. 19, from the Grand Forks Region Economic Development Corp.

“At Sanford Health we are proud to have been a part of the greater Grand Forks/East Grand Forks community for the past 20 years. We continue to see a very bright future for the community and feel privileged to be a partner in the new career academy,” Justin Stromme, senior director at Sanford Health, said in a statement released Friday by the EDC. “Our goal aligns perfectly with the academy’s goal to prepare students for positions in health care. That’s why Sanford has consistently invested in career academies across the region including Fargo and Moorhead. To date our total commitments are $3.75 million.”

As of Friday, the total raised for the project comes to $9.6 million. The fundraising committee has until Dec. 1 to raise $10 million in community funds to unlock a full $10 million in matching dollars from the state Department of Career and Technical Education.

Along with the Sanford commitment, donations announced Friday by the EDC are:

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  • An anonymous donor, $250,000.
  • Grand Forks Area Career and Technology Center member schools, $200,000.
  • Bergstrom Electric, $100,000.
  • Jim and Marydale Hansen, $100,000.
  • Simonson Station Stores Inc., $100,000.
  • Valley Senior Living, $100,000.
  • AE2S, $75,000.
  • Northern Tier Seed, $60,000.
  • Brady Martz, $50,000.
  • Ideal Aerosmith, $50,000.
  • RDO Equipment Co., $50,000.
  • Fusion Automation, $25,000.
  • North Dakota Eye Clinic, $25,000.
  • RDO Truck Centers, $20,000.
  • Sterling Carpet One, $15,000.

“I’m very proud to be part of this community and region, and these investments are another example of why,” said Keith Lund, EDC president and CEO. “The industry support is inspiring and shows how much regional businesses care about our future through supporting this critically important workforce development project.”

It's been a big six weeks for the project, starting with a million-dollar donation on Oct. 8 from Altru Health System, essentially kicking off the fundraising effort. In the weeks since, more than 50 commitments have come in, including 24 that have totaled $100,000 or more.

The city has committed $1.7 million in a land donation to the project, and Grand Forks Public Schools has added $1.5 million. Grand Forks County has committed $400,000, and the EDC in October voted to donate $500,000.

“It is great to see the community leaders looking to find ways to develop and retain our local workforces. Brady Martz is proud to support various projects that enhance the communities in which we live,” Tim Mehlhoff, of Brady Martz & Associates, said in the EDC release. “This project checks all the boxes for a positive impact for years to come.”

The career and technical center has been a focus of city leaders during the push to raise $10 million. Those leaders say the center is a needed way to excite local young people about local jobs. It will help steer students, including adult 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.”