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State aid will help 80 eligible former Ainsworth workers

BEMIDJI - More than $400,000 in state aid will provide dislocated worker services to 80 eligible former Ainsworth Engineered workers in Bemidji.

The state Department of Employment and Economic Development announced Monday the $410,000 in services to workers affected by the slowdown in the construction industry.

Ainsworth announced earlier this month plans to indefinitely idle its Bemidji plant, which manufactured an oriented-strand board product used in the housing industry. The move permanently ended 140 positions. It also closed its OSB plant in Cook, Minn.

The plant was closed in October, with the idea of reassessing an opening in the spring, depending on the housing industry and economy at that time.

"After a layoff, Minnesotans know they need to rethink their careers to be competitive in the workforce," said state Employment and Economic Development Commissioner Dan McElroy. "Dislocated Worker Program services help ease the pain layoffs have on individuals, families and communities and equip former workers with the skills they need to make successful career shifts."

Those determined to be most in need of assistance include primary wage earners with dependents, mature workers, those who will have difficulty relocating for employment and those needing financial and career counseling and training, DEED said.

Each dislocated worker will work independently with a counselor to develop an employment plan. Customized workshops will include surviving a layoff, living with a reduced budget, resume writing, interviewing and finding job leads.

Minnesota WorkForce Center-Bemidji staff created a phone calling tree and support group for outreach and recruitment activities, DEED said. Ainsworth Engineered offered employees the use of computers and fax machines to conduct a job search.

Training will be provided by Rural Minnesota Concentrated Employment Program of Detroit Lakes. The state Dislocated Worker Program is both state and federally funded, with grants distributed through the Minnesota Job Skills Partnership Board.

McElroy also announced Monday a similar program for about 50 eligible workers of Tetra Rex in Minneapolis, with a $175,000 grant, affected by the firm's relocation.