The Siouxland area where Iowa, Nebraska and South Dakota meet, has landed a quarter-million dollar federal grant for "regional innovation." Brent Orrell, assistant secretary of the U.S. Labor Department’s employment and training division, says the grant will help develop strategies to prepare workers for opportunities in new and emerging industries.
Orrell says, "This project is really focused on trying to determine whether a center for science, technology, engineering and math would be established as well as looking at regional innovation strategies and creating a planning office for the development of the tri-state Siouxland region area." He says the grant will support planning activities that prepare the region’s workforce for careers in growing sectors like advanced manufacturing, health care, business services and transportation.
Orrell says: "The industries will really be focused on high-growth, high-wage opportunities for the region. The specific industries aren’t detailed in the grant."
The grant is being awarded to Iowa Workforce Development but he says it will benefit a wide section of northwest Iowa, northeast Nebraska and southeast South Dakota.
Orrell says, "The funds will be used for a feasibility study for establishing one of these STEM academies which are focused on science, technology, engineering and math." Such an academy, he says, would bring a host of new advantages to all levels of the workforce.
Orrell says: "This particular effort will really be available to workers of all ages. Obviously, we want to focus on youth who are coming up, but there are also workers who are in transition who need to upgrade their skills, so STEM education is really for everybody." He says these grants are designed to spark comprehensive and strategic regional plans focused on talent development aligned with the demands of the 21st century economy.