WASHINGTON — U.S. Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Tina Smith (D-MN) announced that the U.S. Economic Development Administration awarded St. Cloud Technical & Community College $2,530,000 to construct a new advanced manufacturing training lab in Stearns County, Minnesota. The project will expand the capacity of the college’s manufacturing technology program by providing cutting-edge equipment and offering a flexible space to serve the region’s workforce training needs. The project will help enhance the region’s workforce by providing a pipeline of skilled workers in high demand fields, bolster workforce development, create jobs, attract private investment, and strengthen the regional economy.

“This investment in St. Cloud Technical & Community College is crucial for training our students to meet workforce needs and supporting the economy,” Klobuchar said. “Our education system is not one size fits all, and as the American workforce changes, students deserve the opportunity to find the career path that works best for them.”

“We need to make sure students have the opportunity to develop the skills they need for jobs that are available right now. And many of the good-paying jobs are in areas like advanced manufacturing, which doesn’t require an expensive four-year degree,” Smith, a member of the Senate Education Committee said. “With this grant to create a new Advanced Manufacturing Training Lab at St. Cloud Technical & Community College, students in central Minnesota will get the kind of resources and support they deserve. I’ve long been focused on solutions that work for Minnesotans and all Americans, and this kind of investment is exactly what we need in the state.”

Klobuchar has led national efforts to support apprenticeship opportunities and strengthen Minnesota’s workforce. 

This month, Klobuchar introduced the bipartisan Skills Renewal Act that will create a flexible $4,000 skills training credit for newly unemployed Americans, will allow workers to access their choice of training programs and gain skills expected to be in high demand in coming years.

In 2019, Klobuchar introduced the American Apprenticeship Act with Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) to help create and expand pre-apprenticeship and registered apprenticeship programs. 

In 2018, Klobuchar’s Career and Technical Education Research and Outreach Act to authorize research into the best ways to promote career and technical education (CTE) to students, including the best ways to involve teachers, school counselors, and parents, and the effectiveness of different forms of CTE, was signed into law as part of the reauthorization of the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act.

She also introduced the bipartisan Skills Investment Act of 2019 to expand Coverdell Education Savings Accounts—tax advantaged savings accounts for educational expenses—so American workers could use the accounts to pay for skills training, career-related learning, and professional development. 

In 2015, Klobuchar successfully pushed for a $5 million grant from the Department of Labor to strengthen partnerships between Minnesota community colleges and local businesses and expand apprenticeship programs.