IRRRB Approves $1.85 Million in Higher Education Funding

By KBJR News 1

August 9, 2013 Updated Aug 9, 2013 at 9:14 AM CDT

Eveleth, MN (NNCNOW.com) --- Engineering and nursing students on the Iron Range are about to see a boost to their programming.

The IRRRB has decided to invest almost $2 million in higher education.

"70% of the new jobs in Minnesota by the year 2018 are going to require more than a high school degree. And we know gone are the days where you can leave high school and get a job where you can support your family, and so it's very important to invest in education to make sure that we're competitive for the jobs of today and tomorrow," said IRRRB Commissioner Tony Sertich.

Over half of the $1.85 million being invested in higher education will specifically go towards improving engineering and nursing programs on the Iron Range.

$1,000,000 will go towards the Iron Range Engineering program, which will allow students to get engineering degrees from the University of Mankato.

"When you look at the engineering program itself it's been touted all across the country as innovative, new, and very very effective. And you've got 40 graduates now in just a very short period of time and they're all finding jobs," said DFL (Chisholm) Senator David Tomassoni.

$500,000 will go to local colleges to complete the integration of telepresence technology classrooms.

"The high tech industry is one of those things that moves very very fast and you've got to keep up with it, so we're doing our best to try and do that," said Tomassoni.

The third motion passed for higher education funding was a $350,000 grant which will go towards improving the professional level Certified Nurse Practitioner program.

"For a long time people had to leave to get higher education opportunities beyond a 2 year degree, and so we're bringing more opportunities so people can live here, stay here while they're going to school, and get a job here when they're done," said Sertich.

Commissioner Sertich says that these projects show the IRRRB's commitment to improving education on the range.

Sertich also says that these funding decisions are demand driven, and that industries tell board members the training that is needed, and the IRRRB responds by providing grants and loans for special projects.

Elsa Robins