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Day of Celebration

U.S. Deputy Secretary of
Labor Seth D. Harris on Thursday, Oct. 11 joined Central Lakes College leaders
and partners at “A Day of Celebration” to inaugurate the Regional Advanced Manufacturing
Retraining (RAMR) program at Wilson Tool, White Bear Lake. The innovative partnership
involving CLC and three other Minnesota schools over the next three years aim
to prepare workers in Minnesota and Wisconsin for advanced manufacturing
careers. A $13.1 million federal grant announced Sept. 19
assigned consortium leadership to Central Lakes College, Brainerd and Staples. CLC’s
educational partners are St. Cloud Technical and Community College, St. Cloud;
Pine Technical College, Pine City; and the 360 Manufacturing and Applied
Engineering Center of Excellence, Bemidji State University, Bemidji. Images: http://www.flickr.com/photos/58518185@N04/

The program will connect foreign trade-impacted workers, other
dislocated workers, veterans and incumbent workers in need of skill enhancement
with comprehensive advanced manufacturing training and wrap-around student

The U.S. Department of Labor is implementing and administering the
program in coordination with the U.S. Department of Education.

The intent is to counter the loss of jobs that have often moved overseas. More than
8,700 manufacturing workers in Minnesota have either lost their jobs due to
foreign trade or are under constant danger of job loss since January 1, 2007.

Deputy Secrectary Harris said that, as part of a national
investment in strengthening the
middle class, the RAMR program “will give 3,900 people a chance to move into
middle-class jobs that are long-lasting.” He called the push by the Obama
Administration to foster community college training for manufacturing jobs “the
antidote to outsourcing.”

Officials predict RAMR will result in a pool of high-skilled
technicians ready to work throughout Minnesota and two counties in Wisconsin.

Eligible students will work with dedicated advisors who will provide
intensive advising and support services to ensure that potential barriers to
student success are identified and that students receive the assistance needed
to stay focused and successful.

            “We are excited about the
opportunity to better serve the manufacturing sector of the state’s economy
with this grant,” said Dr. Larry Lundblad, president of CLC. “The most
economically distressed rural regions will benefit the most.”

The college’s Staples campus will be home to new programs in plastics
and rapid prototyping, with as many as a dozen employees assigned duties as
instructors, coordinators, case managers, project director, education
specialist, and lab assistant.

The grant includes approximately $3.1 million in new manufacturing

Wilson Tool, with a 475-person workforce, is one of about 18 manufacturing
companies that have signed on to fill high-skilled job openings with workers
trained on campus, online, and at their manufacturing plant. The firm plans to
hire 50 new machinists, engineers, and interns this year.

Wilson Tool makes machine tools and dies for the metal stamping and
punch press machines used by Toro, Polaris, Pentair, John Deere, and other

The $13,100,920 awarded to the consortium will be divided as follows: CLC
— $3,748,561; SCTCC — $3,953,961; PTC — $3,209,312; 360 Center —

Other speakers Thursday were Jeff Wig, dean of career and technical
programs at CLC; Brian Robinson, CEO of Wilson Tool; Dr. Robert Musgrove,
president of PTC; Dr. Joyce Helens, president of SCTCC; and college students in
re-training. One of those is Mike Bergren of Little Falls, a laid-off VERSA
paper employee.

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