From Finance & Commerce: BlueGreen Alliance Foundation trains a green workforce

Finance & Commerce takes a look at CEMC's programs to teach manufacturers and their workforce how to make their operations more efficient and profitable.

The following are excerpts of an article published on 8/5/2013 by Finance & Commerce. Read the full article here

Ham Lake-based Micron Metal Works was looking for a training program last year that would help upgrade the sheet metal skills of its employees.

The company found Anoka Green, a program that not only provided sheet metal training but also an educational element that encouraged employees to look for ways to improve energy efficiency and reduce waste.

Paul Engen, Micron’s plant supervisor, said when employees returned they suggested ways to reduce set-up times before the start of sheet metal projects. Those techniques improved the plant’s efficiency, reduced waste and improved their careers, he said.

“The program allowed them to get more sheet metal training and move up in the company,” Engen said. “They’re working better and faster.”

Anoka Green was delivered at the Anoka County Workforce Center and Anoka Technical College. The section of the program dealing with energy efficiency is called “GreenPOWER,” which is run by trainers from the Minneapolis-based BlueGreen Alliance Foundation.

The training includes 48 hours of hands-on classes in improving energy efficiency and reducing waste in the manufacturing process. Developed by Purdue University’s engineering school, GreenPOWER has been taught by BlueGreen nationally to more than 2,000 people.

The Anoka program included sheet metal workers and trainees wanting to enter the field, said David Foster, executive director of the BlueGreen Alliance Foundation. The training apparently worked. “Anoka Green” and a companion program, “Minnesota Green” recently trained 141 sheet metal students and 111 found jobs.

“BlueGreen Alliance’s work during the grant was really effective and achieved really good results,” said Teresa Kittridge, project manager for the Minnesota State Energy Partnership, which administered the $628,000 grant, part of a $6 million federal program. “They’ve done a great job; they were high performers.”

The sheet metal training program offered several advantages for employers, said Nick Graff, director of Anoka Technical College’s advanced technology center. BlueGreen paid the tuition and equipment costs of sheet metal students who took the classes, he noted…

[BlueGreen Alliance Foundation] programs range from training students with green skills on how to sell that talent to potential employers to teaching factory workers various approaches to helping reduce their employers’ energy use and waste.

A good example is BlueGreen’s “Clean Energy Manufacturing Center,” which provided the GreenPOWER training and now focuses on working with existing businesses to connect them to emerging supply chains. It just opened a resource center in the BlueGreen Alliance office at 2828 University Ave. SE in Minneapolis.

Manufacturers can stop off and find out about how to make their operations more efficient and learn about how to become part of the supply chain for renewable energy companies, according to Jacques Koppel, who runs the center.

In late July, the center held a half-day conference on clean energy opportunities for companies on the Green Line, the new name of the Central Corridor Light Rail Transit route between the downtowns of Minneapolis and St. Paul, which will start running next year.