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City council acts on workforce development program, more

The Worthington City Council is moving forward following action Monday with participation in a proposed pilot program targeting workforce development in the region.

The program is intended to attract and retain workforce through the support of technical education in targeted occupations based on input from employers and training capacity at Minnesota West Community and Technical College campuses. The occupations include carpentry, HVAC, mechatronics, automotive, plumbing, auto technician, agriculture diesel and electrical.

Worthington City Administrator Steve Robinson noted that potential employees in those professions are currently lost to South Dakota, and Councilman Chad Cummings added that Iowa has a similar program.

The Southwest Council of Mayors is pursuing a legislative funding request for a five-year pilot program with state funding of $600,000 per year combined with local funds split on a per capita basis of five participating communities – all with Minnesota West campuses -- of $150,000. The mayors requested a proposal from Flaherty and Hood for legislative services through the 2022 legislative session. The total fee for services is $16,500 to be paid by each of the cities on a per capita basis.

Worthington's share for the services is $5,160.39. The proposed fees were not included in the 2022 budget. but funds are available in the General Government Miscellaneous section of the budget. Council approved the expenditure of the $5,160 figure.

Council members also approved a resolution receiving a report from the engineering firm Bolton and Menk on the city’s 2022 bituminous improvement project. The project includes multiple locations that encompass portions of Apel Avenue, Bristol Street, Cynthia Avenue, Eleanor Street and West Oxford Street. The city shares for non-assessable costs associated with the project are $817,340.46; they are $9,288.97 for assessable costs. Assessments receivable for the project are $357,224.91 for a total cost of $1,183,854.34.

The resolution also orders a public hearing on the report and project that has been scheduled for the March 28 city council meeting.

Also Monday, the council approved the retaining of Jorge Lopez as the city’s representative in assisting with the community engagement process of the Main Street Economic Revitalization Program.

The Southwest Initiative Foundation (SWIF) has been awarded a grant through the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development for the program, for which Worthington has been allocated $750,000 in grants and $600,000 in loan guarantees. Funds for revitalization projects are likely to be distributed within the next 12 months or so.

“it’s a great program, we need some good community engagement,” Worthington Mayor Mike Kuhle said.

Funds from the program may be used within the targeted areas that include the downtown business district from First Avenue to Fifth Avenue between Ninth and 12th Streets; Oxford Street from Diagonal Road to the U.S. 59/Minnesota 60 roundabout; and North Humiston Avenue from Oxford Street to Interstate 90. The grants can cover up to 30% of eligible costs and may be used for building construction, repair and renovation of real property, site preparation and professional services.

Additionally, the council also voted to award a contract for the planned Fox Farm Road bridge replacement project to Henning Construction of Adrian in the amount of $249,302.50. Five bids were received for the project, with one rejected due to the signed bid proposal not being included as required. The existing bridge located 350 feet west of Crailsheim Road will be replaced. The work is eligible for state bridge bond funding and capital reserve financing.

In another matter, the council approved a request from Efrain Patino for a conditional use permit to allow him to the use the existing building at 310 11th St. as a warehouse/storage space. The approval follows a unanimous recommendation from the city’s Planning Commission during its Feb. 16 meeting.

Also approved was a preliminary plat for a residential subdivision to be known as Glenwood Heights 3rd Addition on a 30.49-acre tract of land the city owns located west of Sutherland Drive, north of Campbell Boulevard and west of Buchanan Court. The plat would create 39 lots intended for residential development and three outlots, of which one will likely be subdivided in the future for additional residential lots.

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