Immigrants Strengthen State’s Economy, Chamber Says | News, Sports, Jobs


Staff photo by Clay Schuldt Speaking at a luncheon of the new Ulm Chamber of Commerce, State Chamber Speaker Jennifer Byers said only the presence of foreign immigrants had prevented a labor shortage and maintained the overall population of the state.

NEW ULM — A net loss of inward migration has negatively impacted the state’s workforce, a Minnesota Chamber Foundation director told the audience Friday at a Chamber of Commerce luncheon. .

Jennifer Byers was one of the speakers at the Hot Topics luncheon hosted by the Business Education Network at the New Ulm Country Club.

She said current demographics are not on Minnesota’s side, saying the state has seen a loss of labor since the 1990s due to more people leaving the state than leaving. other states.

“Without (foreign) immigration, we would be a losing population,” Byers said. “Immigrants are really important for the growth of the economy.”

The pandemic has hurt the economy, she reported. Minnesota has begun to rebuild, but labor shortages remain. Only three sectors of the economy have recovered the jobs lost due to the pandemic; construction, education and professional scientific and technical services.

Large job gaps remain in manufacturing, trade, health care and other sectors. About 200,000 open jobs exist in Minnesota. Overall unemployment is down to 2.7%.

The number of people looking for work has also decreased. Many people retired or left the workforce during the pandemic.

The availability of child care is another factor, she said.

Byers said there’s been a spike in new business filings, but four out of five of those new businesses have no incentive to grow. The person who sets up the business is the only employee. Often they left another job to become self-employed.

Byers said the Minnesota Chamber’s efforts are focused on building local business education networks. Many Minnesota communities have local BEN groups. No two BEN groups are the same because different communities have different needs, but Byers recommended employees get more involved in business training.

“When students connect with employers, they can truly understand career opportunities,” she says.

Connecting employers to schools and exposing students to job and career opportunities can help align skills with local needs.

Ulm New Schools Superintendent Jeff Bertrang presented a summary of BEN’s activities since 2018. Bertrang confirmed that BEN was run by businesses, but the school would partner with employers. Programming, including classroom CEO and workplace teacher programming, began in 2019 but was halted during the pandemic. Bertrang said the district is trying to revive the workplace teacher program.

The Vocational and Technical Training Center began its activities last fall. There are 440 students taking a course at this institution. Bertrang said the center has been a great collaboration with businesses and the public.

The school is also working on the nursing shortage by partnering with Allina Health. There are already students in training for qualified childminders.

Another speaker, Wendy Anderson, is a new business consultant for New Ulm. She has consulted with businesses for over a decade and helps people looking to start or grow a business, or people leaving the business and looking to sell a business. Its advisory services are provided by the City of New Ulm.

Paul Wessel gave a brief update on the status of the New Ulm Economic Development Corporation. He recently took over as director. He said NUEDC was officially called New Ulm Industries and had been operating since the 1950s. Wessel said the organization had been dormant for a few years and needed a refresh. The NUEDC will be renamed New Ulm Business Resource and Innovation Center (NUBRIC).

“Our goal is to contribute to the growth, creation and sustainability of New Ulm businesses”, said Wessel. “We are operated in a global network of venture capital, mezzanine financing and angel investment networks.”

The BEN Committee was formed in 2018 to focus on shared goals of building the workforce and connecting students to high-demand careers in our community.

The committee paused its efforts during the COVID pandemic, but is starting to ramp up again. BEN is currently looking for additional company representatives to get involved.

This was the first Hot Topic Lunch hosted by the New Ulm Chamber in two years due to the pandemic.

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