ST. CLOUD -- Two St. Cloud area companies are expecting to hire a combined 400 new workers with the help of $700,000 in grant funding.

St. Cloud State University and St. Cloud Technical and Community College along with Park Industries and New Flyer of America were awarded a combined $700,000, $350,000 for each business. The grants are from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.

Tammy Anhalt-Warner is the Director of the St. Cloud State Workforce Development Center for Continuing Studies. She says the grants will go to help train existing and new employees.

"Just like many other businesses in the area they are looking to develop their current workforce, to ramp up their existing skills, to remain competitive. They will be training new hires through the process. So they have developed a large training plan that will span the next three years with different training topics. Each company has different priorities that they have set."

With Electrolux announcing they will be closing their St. Cloud plant by the end of 2019, it leaves the Granite City with an estimated 800 people losing their jobs. Anhalt-Warner says to prepare for that closure, each company is looking to hire and train for different positions.

"In both cases, there are some topics that will be presented to their entire workforce and in other areas it might be more specific. For example, it could be focusing on their sales department, it could be in their production area with some project management training, and there's a big component that is dealing with more technical skills."

Park Industries has more than 300 total employees and they will be looking to hire about 60 more over the next few years. New Flyer of America is a larger company, with about 700 employees at their St. Cloud location, they will be looking to add 340 more workers over the next three years.

Anhalt-Warner says anytime companies can get this type of funding for training it helps them become a better asset to the city and its residents.

"It provides the companies just a tremendous boost in their competitive edge because there's $350,000 that the company is not having to spend. The grant dollars replace those costs and just allows the companies to be stronger by having a better-prepared workforce."

Meanwhile, at the capitol, State Representative Jim Knoblach is introducing a bill that would provide $650,000 in funding to go toward retraining workers in the St. Cloud area before Electrolux closes its doors. That bill is being pitched to the House's Job Committee.

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