While recent headlines about the new Vikings Stadium have focused on a variety of issues, one that has failed to make the front page is a commitment by the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority to ensure that the project is built by a work force that reflects the diversity of our state.
By signing an agreement with a coalition of community partners to serve as the Employment Assistance Firm (EAF), the MSFA has formally committed to making this “The People’s Stadium.”
This agreement, and the coalition of partners supporting this mission, will not only assist the MSFA in meeting its work-force goals of 32 percent minorities and 6 percent women, but will also put a system in place to meet the work-force needs for future construction projects in Minnesota.
This partnership couldn’t have come at a better time. For several years, Minnesota has had the worst employment disparity in the nation between blacks and whites. Add that to the fact that we are experiencing a demographic shift that will result in nearly 45 percent of the Twin Cities’ population being people of color by 2040. The face of Minnesota is changing, and our work force needs to reflect that change.
Meeting for several months
For several months, organizations representing communities of color, women and veterans have been meeting behind the scenes to build a coalition to serve as the EAF. Charged with identifying workers, providing training and solidifying placement, the coalition is made up of 17 organizations representing a variety of sectors.
From educational organizations like Minneapolis Community and Technical College and St. Paul College to training organizations like Summit Academy OIC, Merrick Community Services and the Minneapolis Urban League, we have made an effort to join a variety of constituencies who have a stake and expertise in building a diverse, well-trained and representative work force.
Community organizations like the Somali Education and Social Advocacy Center, the Latino Economic Development Center, the Veterans Small Business Foundation and the Minnesota Workforce Council Association will support our efforts by conducting outreach and identifying qualified workers and potential candidates.
For the health of our entire region, we must work together to forge stronger relationships and make intentional commitments to ensure a viable future economy.
We applaud the efforts of the MSFA and also the dedication of our coalition partners to work toward a common goal of ensuring that the new Viking stadium is built by the highly skilled, diverse workers of Minnesota.
Avi Viswanathan is Campaign Director for HIRE Minnesota, which works to ensure that public investments create jobs that reduce racial disparities and lift people out of poverty.
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