February 2019
Our mission is to develop and advance the workforce of Southeast Minnesota.
Meet Kristy Ruble
Human Resources Coordinator
Hormel Foods, Austin Plant
Austin, Minnesota

SE MN Workforce Development Board (WDB) Member since 2018

Why did you decide on a career at Hormel Foods and who or what influenced you to decide on this career choice?   Hormel has a great company history and benefits, in addition to the opportunity to grow from within.

February Business Highlight
Grandma's Gourmets
Albert Lea, Minnesota
Nestled in a commercial kitchen and warehouse space in Albert Lea, you will find a unique food manufacturer-- Grandma’s Gourmets. The sweet smells of cinnamon, lemon and apple juice wafts out of the kitchen. They’re making a cinnamon, apple and whiskey jelly, one of their new artisanal products. If you go to their website, www.grandmasgourmets.com , you will find this introduction: “Grandma's Gourmets is focused on providing unique products that are a blend of memories, contemporary flavors and high quality ingredients, many sourced locally. From our Bloody Pickles to Road Rage Jam and to our Grandma's Dills, we provide amazing flavors to discerning customers; we produce the highest quality of gourmet foods made in small, artisan batches just as if grandma made them, because she did.” 
February Feature: A Healthful Economy in Rochester
Minneapolis Federal Reserve
Ron Wirtz, Director of Regional Outreach
Dominated by health care, the city and region are seeing sustained growth amid attempts to diversify from—while still strengthening—their core.

"While the state economy has slightly lagged the national economy of late, Rochester has bested both, and its recent trend is particularly bullish. Much of that performance stems from the steady growth of Mayo Clinic, especially recently, according to figures from the Bureau of Economic Analysis. From 2015 to 2017 (the most recent data available for metros), GDP in the health care and social assistance sector in Rochester grew by 12 percent, significantly faster than the Rochester or state economy overall. Not surprisingly, that growth has had a positive and inverse effect on unemployment, which has plummeted to an ultra-low 2 percent, roughly half the national rate."

Interested in subscribing to the Minneapolis Federal Reserve twice-monthly email of new content? Subscribe here:
Meet Jenny Iverson
MIS/Intake Specialist
Workforce Development, Inc.
Austin, Minnesota

July 2018 brought changes to the Austin Office. Rachel Davis, MIS/Intake Specialist, accepted a position within our Rochester Office as a Youth Career Planner. Although we were excited for Rachel’s new adventure, we were sad to see her leave!

Seventy Seven individuals applied for the MIS/Intake Specialist position and although we had a lot of wonderful and qualified applicants, we were ecstatic to welcome Jenny Iverson to our team! Jenny’s background in retail has given her an amazing customer service focus, and her attention to detail makes her an ideal MIS employee. Our customers look forward to Jenny’s smile and one customer even told us that “the place would fall apart without Jenny,” when she was away on vacation.

Jenny’s job is the most challenging within the organization. Not only is she the face people first see when they walk in, she is the voice on the phone and the support system when they are researching and applying for jobs. In addition to all of that work, she supports our Career Planners in their paperwork and data entry. Jenny does all of this with a beautiful attitude, a fun sense of humor, and she finds a way to connect with each of our customers.

She is an amazing asset to our Austin team and we are so grateful that she has come into our lives!
Shown Above:
Jenny Iverson , MIS/Intake Specialist
Clara Johnson, Career Planner
Alison Sabinish, Career Planner
Fast Facts: Food Manufacturing
Allan: A Success Story
Generating a Sustainable Income to Meet His Family's Financial Needs
Allan, a 41-year-old father of two teen age daughters, had lost his job this past fall and was in need of finding another job that would provide the income to keep up with his family’s expenses. Allan was interested in a job that would offer at least 40 hours of work, provide a good wage, and require some physical activity. Through the staffing agency, Aerotek, he took a position at DairiConcepts, a food processing manufacturer. Within a couple of days, Allan realized that this was the employer that he wanted a long term position with. In early January, Allan was hired on full-time at DairiConcepts and is enjoying the work and the people whom he is working with. Allan’s new position will provide the wages needed to meet his family’s financial needs, which was his primary goal when he started his program with Workforce Development, Inc.

Submitted by: Steve Hill, Career Planner, WDI
Community Business Partner Spotlight
Austin Tire
Austin, Minnesota

There’s nothing quite like the reality of car trouble. It always seems to happen on the busiest of days, or the coldest days of the year. For people living in rural southeast Minnesota, the feeling is amplified by the lack of public transportation, and the need to get back on the road again quickly is fierce! In Austin, we are very blessed with this month’s Community Partner, Austin Tire.

Whenever someone comes to the Workforce Development, Inc. (WDI) office in Austin with a car repair need, we encourage them to search around the community to find the best deal and service provider to meet their individual needs. Time and again, Austin Tire is the shop of choice. Dave and his staff work with our participants to keep repairs budget friendly, they work quickly and are more than willing to accept payment through the WDI Voucher system. Most importantly, Dave and crew treat each customer with dignity and respect. They are extremely accommodating and flexible, doing what they can to help our participants get back on the road, and back to work, as quickly as possible!
One of the biggest reasons a person loses their job within the first few months of employment is due to transportation problems. With the collaboration between WDI and Austin Tire, we are working to help people continue to work!

Submitted by: Beth Christensen, Area Manager, WDI
Meet Brenda Jenkins
Forklift Operator, Faribault Foods
Faribault, Minnesota
Faribault Foods has been a canning and preserving company operating in Faribault, Minnesota since 1888. The success of Faribault Foods started with ten local farmers, strong leadership, and proper equipment. This food manufacturing company has survived a fire in 1904, the depression, dust bowl, and WWII. In the past 131 years, they have continued to increase their yearly production and have expanded their product line.

As a single mother with four young children, Brenda needed to find employment that would be allow me to pay my bills. She had worked in health care for many years, but it became difficult to be a constant care giver. Working as a forklift operator at Faribault Foods, Brenda notes, "I enjoy the pay, and I’m constantly moving around."

What are key qualities a person would need to poses to work at Faribault Foods?
"It’s important to follow safety procedures, especially in the warehouse. It’s also important to have a positive attitude, enjoy working with other staff, and learning new tasks quickly."

What is a challenge for you in your position?
"It can be difficult at times when we have a few open positions and still need to complete our work during our shift. It’s during those times that it’s important to work hard but not let the stress get to you."

What do you enjoy most about your job?
"I enjoy my co-workers, that there is a possibility for regular overtime, and that each night I work is just a little different."
Submitted by: Crystal Zimmerman, Career Planner, WDI
Scholarship News

In December, the Emerging Workforce Taskforce, a subcommittee of the Workforce Development Board, chose seven recipients to receive a post-secondary tuition scholarship through youth programming at Workforce Development, Inc. The total amount awarded was over $25,000.

These individuals had to complete application materials and submit a story to describe their career goals as well as the challenges they have faced thus far in their education career. They also had to complete occupational research packets and receive two professional letters of recommendation. Scholarship recipients for Spring 2019 included:
  • Carl Knuston, pursuing an AAS degree in Lab Science at Rochester Community and Technical College
  • Josie Schultz, pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from Winona State University
  • Jerrianna Hansen, pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from Minnesota State University - Mankato
  • Susan Miller, pursuing an Associate’s Degree in Licensed Practical Nursing from Rochester Community and Technical College
  • Monica Thang, pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Registered Nursing from Viterbo University
  • Haley Moe, pursuing an Associate’s Degree in Veterinary Science from Rochester Community and Technical College
  • Michael Keise, pursing an Associate’s Degree in Computer Science/Web Design
Brian Cashman – WDI Board Member, Nicole Cashman , Desirae Dyke - WDI, Lori Jensen – RCTC, Michelle Altman –RCTC, Melissa Brandt – RPS, Amy Eich – Northrop, and Terry Eich
OAKS Scholarship Celebration

Workforce Development, Inc. (WDI) had the honor of being a sponsor for the 19th Annual OAKS (Overcoming Adversity, Keeping Strong) Scholarship Celebration on January 10, 2019, at the Rochester Event Center.

Eleven area high school seniors and first year Rochester Community and Technical College (RCTC) students received scholarships from the RCTC Foundation. Students, in spite challenges and obstacles, achieved personal and academic success while pursuing their dream of higher education.
Upcoming Event Dates

February 18: Workforce Development, Inc. (WDI) Offices Closed

February 21: Zumbro Education District and WDI Career and Resource Fair , ZED Alternative Learning Center, Byron

February 27: MaxAbility Series - Disability Friendly Culture and Etiquette, Wood Lake Meeting Center, Rochester

March 7: Workforce Development Board and Sector Meetings, Assisi Heights, Rochester

 March 19: Equity Logic Series - Intercultural Dynamics and Workplace Climate; Reframing Accommodations 8am-10am, Wood Lake Meeting Center, Rochester; Individual Sessions: $40. Package of 3 Sessions: $100.
Current Job Openings at WDI
Executive Director (Full-time)
SE Minnesota Counties

Intake Specialist/MIS (Full-time)
Rochester (Olmsted County) Office

Employer Outreach Specialist (Full-time)
SE Minnesota Counties
SE Minnesota Employment Trends

Learn more about  the
Customer Service Sector
in the upcoming March 2019 issue!
Workforce Development, Inc. is an Equal Opportunity Employer/Program Provider and a proud partner of the American Job Center Network.
Connect with your local WDI office on Facebook: