Leonard earns workforce center award

by Paul Rignell

Contributing writer

Executives from Central Minnesota Jobs and Training Services, based in Monticello, presented a plaque March 26 to Sherburne County Commissioner Rachel Leonard to honor her 12 years of service (and counting) on a joint powers board that oversees the program’s annual budget and finances.

Sherburne County is geographically centered among 13 counties in a work service area where officials strive to match , through job training and placement, unemployed and underemployed adults and youth with businesses and industries in need of workers.

Leonard was appointed by peers on the county board to represent them on the Central Minnesota Jobs and Training Services joint powers board within a year of her first election in 2000. The work service area also includes Chisago, Isanti, Kanabec, Mille Lacs and Pine counties to the north and east, and Kandiyohi, McLeod, Meeker, Renville and Wright counties to the south and west.

The state Department of Employment and Economic Development reports that just as Sherburne County’s population boomed from 2000 to 2010 – rising 37.4 percent to 88,499 residents at the last census – the county’s labor force grew by nearly 19 percent through those 10 years, reaching 49,739 workers in 2012.

The new decade also began with job growth, as the county saw a net increase of 1.6 percent or 373 jobs from the second quarter of 2011 to the same quarter of 2012. Industries of construction, arts, recreation, hotel and food service saw the largest percentage gains. However, less than one-third of Sherburne County’s working residents are employed in the county. DEED reports that more than 69 percent commute to other counties, which tops the figures from all other counties in this work service area.

Leonard told the Star News that she is proud to represent Sherburne County on the services joint powers board.

“It (the program) is something that always helps our community and the work force,” she said.