A bill making its way through the Minnesota legislature would bring high-tech upgrades to the Owatonna School District, Riverland Community College, and the Owatonna Area Chamber of Commerce and Tourism. The one-million-dollar appropriation has the backing of Senator John Jasinski (R-Faribault).

A press release from the senator's office states the bill "would help Owatonna and Steele County recruit and retain talented workers by providing funds for Owatonna Learn to Earn program.

"When I talk to small businesses in our area, they tell me that one of the biggest challenges they are facing is a shortage of workers," Jasinski says. "The pandemic certainly didn't help, but many of these issues have been a problem for years - especially outside the metro. This innovative program will help Steele County build and retain a talented workforce for years to come."

The $1 million package includes

  • Nearly $600,000 "to equip the Owatonna Riverland Community College Campus with state-of-the-art instructional equipment to offer credit and non-credit technical programs in automation robotics engineering technology and information technology," the news release indicates.
  • More than $300,000 "to equip the new Owatonna High School's Industrial Technology classrooms with state-of-the-art equipment to introduce students to high-skill, high-wage, technical careers."
  • $80,000 would go toward "learn-to-earn opportunities for students and employers."
  • $20,000 would be used "to conduct a comprehensive local needs assessment to examine current and future workforce needs in the region."

The next step is the Higher Education Committee.

Find the latest updates on the new high school construction here. The three-story, 317,000 square foot building is scheduled to open in the fall of 2023. It will accommodate 1,600 students.

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