Posted: November 6, 2008

Contact: Doug Anderson,, 651-201-1426

Amidst the nation’s struggling economy, the Minnesota State Colleges and Universities system has launched an initiative to help the state’s businesses and industries improve their productivity and maintain their competitive edge.

“Businesses across the state depend on the system’s 32 colleges and universities to prepare the workforce of the future,” said David Olson, chair of the system’s Board of Trustees and president of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce. “The current economic uncertainty makes it imperative that our colleges and universities work harder and smarter to meet the needs of employers so Minnesota remains competitive.”

The system’s initiative involves a three-pronged approach that calls for the state colleges and universities to: 1) increase their understanding of businesses’ needs and challenges, 2) raise awareness among businesses about the system’s programs and services, and 3) enhance customer service to meet businesses’ needs.

Chancellor James H. McCormick is leading the initiative. “Though Minnesota currently has a well-educated workforce, we know training and education will become more important than ever,” McCormick said. “Baby boomers are beginning to retire, and groups that traditionally haven’t gone on to higher education are growing in numbers. And as Tom Stinson, the state economist, said recently, developing a strong workforce should be the state's number one concern in the next decade.”

To learn firsthand how the system’s colleges and universities can better serve employers, McCormick, the system’s 32 presidents and other top system officials are visiting more than 300 employers across the state.

The system already offers a wide array of programs and services to help employers, businesses and organizations. Services include customized training, online professional development and employee training, small business and farm business development and management education and career service centers. Each year, the system provides training programs for 6,000 employers and 151,000 employees. The system also produces 41 percent of the state’s new business graduates each year.

A new 25-page brochure, “Open for Business – Your Guide to Training, Education and Business Services,” describes the system’s services, how businesses can customize training for current employees and identify new employees. The guide is designed to be a handy reference for business executives, human resource directors, training directors and others. Program charts display specialized business services and business-oriented academic programs offered at each college and university.