The Northside will not be left behind.
That was the message being sent by Minnesota DFL gubernatorial candidate U.S. Rep. Tim Walz (1st Dist.) and his running mate, Minnesota Rep. Peggy Flanagan (46A) as they toured a future job training facility along Plymouth Avenue in North Minneapolis. Walz and Flanagan are among the first gubernatorial and lieutenant governor candidates to campaign on the Northside – an area of some residents feel gets overlooked by statewide elected officials. Walz said the stop was less about talking about his message, but more about hearing from the people.
One of those people is Jamez Staples, president of Renewable Energy Partners and owner of the property at 1200 Plymouth Ave. N. – site of the forthcoming Minneapolis Apprentice Training Center. The center will provide vocational training for Minneapolis students and adult learners. Walz said in hearing from Staples, he sees a vision of North Minneapolis being a workforce innovation hub.
“This (Minneapolis Apprentice Training Center) should be the center of innovation. This isn’t theory, this is practice,” said Walz. “This issue (of workforce development) isn’t just a Minneapolis issue, it’s a statewide issue of workforce shortages.”
With well-documented disparities among Blacks and whites in education, employment and economics in Minnesota, Staples said the Minneapolis Apprentice Training Center can greatly improve outcomes for the state’s underserved residents.
“We have a workforce shortage and we want to make sure all of Minneapolis is ready to work,” said Staples. “Part of doing that is bringing career-specific technical education back to Minneapolis.”
Flanagan said what Staples is offering is a tangible solution.
“We’re good at admiring problems, but not addressing them; but something like this is real and making a difference,” said the lieutenant governor hopeful.
She said in touring the state she sees little difference in the needs and desires of various enclaves.
“We were up in Virginia (Minn.) and a lot of what the people there are saying is a lot of what we’re hearing right here,” said Flanagan.
Voters will go to the polls Aug. 14 to vote in the state’s primary election.