“Just because someone had a troubled past doesn’t mean they don’t have a bright future,” said Brandon Holmes, Ajax plant manager.
The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development developed the Pathways to Prosperity grant. It will bring together education and job skills training, and it will provide resources for the job search for previous offenders in the Anoka County Workhouse.
The $375,000 grant will serve 80 people over two years.
“It bolsters our workforce. It gives us more individuals there to work,” said Scott Schulte, Anoka County Board Chair. “Our unemployment levels now are at all-time record lows both at the state and at the federal level. That provides a few challenges to our counties, but to workers in general. Small businesses and large businesses can’t hire enough people to do the job.”
According to Nicole Swanson, the director of Anoka County’s Job Training Center, a job is a path towards a better life and a better community.
“This is really a great opportunity for Anoka County. Feedback from state leadership at the department of employment and economic development is this is the first of this kind of this grant they’re really interested to see what happens with our project. I think that it’s a very great investment grant, a return on investment as well as navigate through whatever barriers they face and It think one of those opportunities happens to be employment,” said Swanson
And for businesses like Ajax, it’s about providing opportunities for people.
“We have multiple people out on the floor who had come in with bad experiences in the past – came out of the workhouse and or straight out of prison. Came here, took the opportunity to get into the apprenticeship program, and have multiple roles and multiple leadership roles, and they have advanced through different programs and continue to educate themselves,” said Holmes.