ST. CLOUD -- A grant designed to help train more welders has been awarded to a St. Cloud organization.

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development awarded Career Solutions a $250,000 grant from their Pathways to Prosperity Program.

Tammy Biery is the Executive Director of Career Solutions. Career Solutions is a partner of the St. Cloud Workforce Center. Biery says the grant will mostly be used to train people looking to go into a welding position.

"We surveyed 10 companies that hiring welders and said in a year from now how many do you need. Among the 10 they need more than 100 welders within the next year. This grant will help us fulfill that workforce need. As well as the workers gain a new skill and get into a more family-sustaining wage, with a long-term growing career."

Although welding is the focus of the grant, it can also be used for other manufacturing positions as well. Biery says only people who qualify can take advantage of the grant funding.

"If they meet the criteria we're able to place them into the training program and the grant pays for their training costs."

Career Solutions works closely with St. Cloud Technical and Community College to get people through the training and education program required for the field they are going into.

With Electrolux planning to close its St. Cloud facility at the end of next year, Biery says Career Solutions is starting to strategize how to prepare but this grant won't be used for Electrolux employees. She says this grant is for current unemployed or underemployed workers and since Electrolux is still operating in St. Cloud this grant doesn't impact their employees.

However, at the capitol, State Representative Jim Knoblach drafted legislation which would provide $650,000 in funding for Career Solutions. The funding would be used to help dislocated workers get more training to find a new position before the Electrolux closure. The bill is still making its way through the legislature.

About 860 Electrolux employees are expected to be laid-off in St. Cloud.

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