State officials will try again to build a new North Side Workforce Center

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State officials are hoping to build a new Minnesota Workforce Center in North Minneapolis, to expand the capacity of the current center (1200 Plymouth Ave. N) and to provide an economic development boost for the North Side. They weren’t satisfied with the responses to their first request for proposals last spring, and are working on another one.

The Center is a state-run service that helps people find jobs in the public and private sectors.

This time they’re looking for more community participation, and residents, consultants and public officials “weighed in” on the subject at a Nov. 20 meeting at the Urban Research and Outreach-Engagement Center (UROC) at Plymouth and Penn avenues N.

Robin Sternberg, deputy commissioner of the state’s Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) said that a successful proposal would likely involve a partnership—a building that would provide more than a new Workforce Center. Asked if DEED was looking to partner with Hennepin County, whose proposal for a services hub on West Broadway was also rejected this year, she said DEED and county officials had discussed possibilities but “they have asked us not to bring that up with you right now.”

Several speakers said they hoped to see retail development as part of the proposal, especially if it’s located on a major business thoroughfare such as West Broadway.

Timothy Davis of Deloitte Consulting said the firm had talked with 90 people who had recent experience at the Workforce Center, and found some common sentiments on what is needed there. The center, he said needs a “triage” to improve customer service and move people quickly to the services they need. Customers, he said, need a “job search plan” to make their job search go faster. The center needs to improve privacy and confidentiality, providing more personal space and electronic check-in procedures, plus enclosed, dedicated counseling spaces. The space, he said, needs a more “logical flow” and improved technology.

Cathy Polasky and Erik Hansen from the City of Minneapolis indicated that the City has some ownership interest in sites near Penn and Plymouth, near Penn and West Broadway and near Bryant and West Broadway, and would work with potential developers if a Workforce Center proposal involved one of those sites.

Those attending the meeting were asked to fill out cards indicating their preference for a potential site and potential partners for the Workforce Center project, and seeking volunteers for the Workforce Center’s Community Advisory Council.

Watch NorthNews and MyNorthNews.com for updates on the proposal and future meetings.

For more information, DEED can be reached at 651-259-7114, and the North Minneapolis Workforce Center can be reached at 612-520-3500.