Business Education Networks

Business Education Networks

A private sector, pro-active approach to better synchronize workforce skills with the needs of the changing economy

Business Education Networks, launched by the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, seeks to narrow the workforce skills gap by better connecting employers with high school and college students. A key to this success is bringing together local chambers, employers, and educators, to focus on a common goal of strengthening tomorrow’s workforce. Because employers cannot find sufficient numbers of qualified job applicants during both good and bad economic times, this will ensure that businesses have ready access to highly skilled workers they want to employ. This will also ensure that students from all backgrounds complete degree and certificate programs in areas where they will have meaningful employment options.

“The experience gave us first-hand insights to the skills and knowledge high-school students need as a worker today. Throughout the week we witnessed teamwork, communication and timeliness, as well as many of the topics we already cover in class. It was great to develop relationships with the employees as we listened to their anecdotes, many of which we will bring back into our classrooms.”

Engaging employers will be key to our success. Business Education Networks will:

  • Connect businesses and local chambers of commerce with students, education systems and workforce training programs so workforce needs are clearly and regularly articulated. As a result, these programs will be more closely aligned with the changing needs of the economy.  
  • Assist employers in accessing and navigating internship, mentorship and on-the-job training programs to meet their distinctive needs.

The Business Education Networks, is currently in partnership with the Winona Area Chamber of Commerce, Brainerd Lakes Chamber of Commerce, and the Waconia Chamber of Commerce and include the following projects:

REACH a program that helps students “reach” their full potential by meeting the future career needs of the students and helping develop a strong workforce for local industry. The Winona Business Education Network will focus on eleventh grade students who are short credits, at-risk, yet still on track to graduate. Along with specialized dual credit coursework, students will meet face to face with a wide variety of employers gaining a strong understanding of what careers are available in Winona.

Read this great article from the Bush Foundation on how the REACH program brings together manufacturers and high school students: "Manufcturers & Public Shools: A Winning Combination" by Morgan Mercer.

HOTJOBSCOOLCOMPANIES.COM a website featuring career preparedness resources for students, educators, and parents in Winona. The site features a Winona Manufacturing Careers Jobs Video, PDF version of the Hot Jobs publication, and a new GIS based interactive business resource directory highlighting career opportunities. The Hot Jobs publication has been distributed through the region and is utilized in local classrooms.

WINONA CAREER EXPLORATION EXPO invites more than 500 high school sophomores from 12 Winona area high schools to expose them to local trade and educational paths in all industries where there are jobs in high demand in the region.

TEACHER IN THE WORKPLACE a program that immerses two Winona high school instructors int0 four different area manufacturers for two weeks each summer. The instructors learn how to better align coursework with the job and career skills needed in the Winona area.


a two-year high school program that will unite the classroom and industry to develop the best and brightest talent for the region’s hospitality industry. All ProStart courses are now officially approved in five school districts and will be offered during the 2017 fall semester. Curriculum has been ordered and businesses and chefs have now been formally assigned to each school.

Waconia’s manufacturers and healthcare industries have struggled over the past few years to find an adequate workforce to keep up with the demands of the recovering economy in a more rural setting. To answer this challenge, the Waconia Chamber has put together its Business Education Networks committee and is implementing workforce initiatives in 2017 to include teachers in the work place and industry tours.


Two grants were instrumental in launching Business Education Networks – Bush Foundation ($300,000) and Carlson Family Foundation ($105,000). 

For more information, contact Stacey Stout, Director, Education & Workforce Development, Elections Policy, or 651.292.6661.