Community leaders and residents celebrated a groundbreaking last week for the Cedar Riverside Opportunity Center — a one-stop shop for education and job training resources.
The center, scheduled to open spring 2017, will be located in the first floor of the new Five15 on the Park building, 515 15th Ave. S. It will serve as a pipeline to job opportunities with the public and private sector with a special focus on the neighborhood’s East African community.
Anchor partners include nonprofit Emerge Community Development, Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC), Hennepin County Workforce Development, the Hennepin County Library and the city of Minneapolis.
Library programming in the center will include a Teen Tech Squad, which will lead technology-based workshops designed to develop creative problem solving skills, an overview of library resources that can assist with building job skills and employment-focused learning circles with tips on preparing for job interviews.
Employers with a recruiting presence at the center will include Hennepin County, Fairview Health Services, Hennepin County Medical Center, the city of Minneapolis, the University of Minnesota, Augsburg College and St. Catherine University.
Key goals of the center include tackling the neighborhood’s high unemployment rate, which is around 17 percent, and increasing access to educational programs.
Hennepin County has contributed $250,000 for the center and the City of Minneapolis has pledged $100,000. The Cedar Riverside Partnership has raised additional funding from local charitable foundations.
City Council Member Abdi Warsame said jobs are critical to improving conditions in East African communities. He has spent two-and-a-half years working on the vision for the opportunity center.
“Increased employment will help people in my community lift themselves out of poverty and give new opportunities to the next generation,” said Warsame. “Broadening the skill base and building community capacity helps alleviate issues of unemployment, underemployment, lack of homeownership and poverty.”
Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin said the Opportunity Center will be a significant asset for the neighborhood and provide a direct path for jobs.
“We hope to attract nine employer partners with a total combined workforce of over 30,000 employers and 2,100 live job postings to Cedar Riverside,” said McLaughlin. “With their support, we will close the opportunity gap in this thriving neighborhood.”
Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges said the center will help the City tackle disparities.
“The Opportunity Center will play a critical role in promoting equity in Minneapolis and closing the skills gap. It will be an invaluable asset for our East African community — providing access to a wide array of resources that will help jobseekers forge career paths and develop strong visions for their future,” said Hodges.