Gov. Walz, Lt. Gov. Flanagan visit Owatonna to discuss job training, economic expansion

Over 20 business leaders came to Owatonna’s Public Works Building Wednesday to brainstorm ideas about economic expansion within the community.
Published: Aug. 10, 2022 at 10:43 AM CDT|Updated: Aug. 10, 2022 at 8:13 PM CDT
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OWATONNA, Minn. (KEYC) - Over 20 business leaders came to Owatonna’s Public Works Building Wednesday to brainstorm ideas about economic expansion within the community.

One of the biggest and most-discussed topics was child care.

“Where is Minnesota going to be in 10 years and how do we get there? Firstbase in the council tax was child care, it’s that big of an issue going forward,” said Steve Grove, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED).

“Workers in care and long-term care, but they are going to go hand-in-hand. The child care piece as Lt. Governor said is the economy behind our economy. COVID simply exposed that just so clearly that this is not going to ease unless there is a conservative effort, and we need numbers,” Gov. Tim Walz added.

The roundtable consisted of bouncing ideas off of one another and getting the opinion of workers to try and grow the Owatonna and Minnesota economies.

“In Owatonna, to understand what the challenges are and what their needs are, what they can do to better support it and just the passion that they had for our community,” said Kelly Anderson, human resources manager at Life Fitness and Cybex.

Anderson brought up the biggest issue that she has been facing in her field of expertise: recruiting.

“From unskilled labor to some of those higher skilled positions like welders, machine operators, things like that. It’s challenging getting them in the door, but it’s just as challenging, if not more challenging of keeping them and retaining them.”

Which begs the question: is automation a thing of the future?

“Some of these things are never going to be automated, at least not in the near future and we are going to need that workforce,” Walz said. “Like Steve talks a lot about, how we are aligning the talent that we have with the right jobs and then figuring out when we can automate and should we automate.”

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