Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Town halls- share your thoughts; Department of Employment and Economic Development presents to the Senate

Sign up to testify at a Town Hall meeting
The Minnesota House of Representatives launched yesterday on the House Web site an opportunity for people to sign up to speak at one of the upcoming Town Hall Meetings being held throughout the state Feb. 19-26. House and Senate staff will make an effort to prioritize those that sign up ahead of time.

The direct link for each Town Hall meeting with sign-up can be found here.

Commissioner McElroy speaks with the Senate
The Senate Economic Development and Housing Budget Division heard from Commissioner Dan McElroy, Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) yesterday. McElroy presented an overview of the department and reviewed the department's budget proposal. McElroy said the department's aim is to support the economic prosperity of individuals, business and communities by improving opportunities for growth. He said DEED's goals center on creating and retaining jobs, cultivating entrepreneurs, enhancing community vitality, strengthening the workforce, fostering self-sufficiency and addressing economic change. McElroy said 68 percent of DEED's funding is from federal sources, 13 percent is from the workforce development fund, 11 percent from the general fund, six percent from a special revenue fund and two percent from the petroleum tank release cleanup fund.

McElroy said DEED has three operational divisions-unemployment insurance, workforce development and business and community development. In the area of business and community development, McElroy said, the department made over 700 direct contacts with companies to encourage growth and expansion, which resulted in 37 expansions with 1,800 new jobs. He said that in the entrepreneurship and small business development program area the agency helped create over 6,000 jobs through direct services. JOBZ created 6,392 new jobs between 2004 and 2007 through 315 projects, McElroy said. He said the Minnesota investment fund and the urban initiative program combined $5.8 million to leverage $169 million in private investment in 2007.

McElroy said the unemployment insurance program area provides an economic stabilizer in times of economic downturn. He said that in 2008, approximately 214,000 Minnesotans were paid just over $1 billion in unemployment insurance benefits. Under current economic conditions, the fund will remain solvent through the first quarter of 2010, he said.

In the area of workforce development, the Minnesota job skills partnership program trained more than 13,000 workers and leveraged nearly $24 million in 2007, McElroy said. Youth programs provided services and training for approximately 10,000 of the state's neediest youth per year, he said with a return of $3.65 for every dollar invested. Other programs include vocational rehabilitation, services for the blind, independent living, extended employment and disability determination, McElroy said.

At the Capitol:
Legislative schedules are available for the House and Senate.

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