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M-State gets $95,000 training grant

Minnesota State Community and Technical College has been awarded a $95,000 Minnesota Renewable Energy Marketplace grant for training employees at Otter Tail Power Company and Otter Tail Ag Enterprises in Fergus Falls and at Bongards' Creameries in Perham.

Dan Eischens, M State's manufacturing and technical product director, said the grant will fund training for up to 60 workers in the areas of electrical and mechanical maintenance, welding, boiler operator and ethanol production.

Training will be both on site at the companies and online.

"This grant provides a wonderful opportunity for these three local companies and their employees," Eischens said. "Although it might appear that they have little in common - ethanol production, power production and cheese production - year-long discussions led us to see that all three have the same maintenance-related training needs, as well as the need for boiler operators."

Eischens said training would begin in January.

While the courses are designed for current employees of the three companies, he said there will likely be space available for general public in the boiler classes, which will provide participants with the initial training needed to begin the process of earning a boiler license.

The college previously received a $202,500 MNREM grant that is funding a unique opportunity for 20 high school students in Moorhead and 13 high school students in Detroit Lakes.

The students are receiving training in welding, electronics, CADD drafting, mechanical design and technical drafting, with the goal of preparing them for careers in manufacturing or alternative energy.

Following completion of the program in the spring, the 33 students will receive a 14-credit college certificate in technical studies.