The Vadnais Heights Economic Development Corporation (VHEDC) received the 2018 Partnership Award by the Economic Development Association of Minnesota (EDAM) last week for the Gen Z Connection: Skills and Careers in Manufacturing program.

Late last week, EDAM hosted an awards ceremony as part of their annual Winter Conference to recognize projects and professionals in the economic development industry who have gone above and beyond or faced significant challenges in the last year.

The Partnership Award recognizes true cooperation, collaboration, and creativity among individuals, entities, or organizations to achieve successful economic development projects or initiatives. The award is granted to those who understand that true success is achieved through building and maintaining relationships and partnerships. This award represents a team working together on a specific project or initiative as a collective whole.

The Gen Z Connection: Skills and Careers in Manufacturing program was a collaborative partnership between manufacturing businesses (Du Fresne Manufacturing, Mold Craft, Schwing America, and The Specialty Mfg Co.), the Vadnais Heights Economic Development Corporation, White Bear Lake Area Schools, Ramsey County and the White Bear Area Education Foundation. The Gen Z Connection program was nearly two years in the making as the partners worked collaboratively over several challenges.  The program allows for students to take a hands-on approach to learning about careers in the manufacturing industry. In addition to the educational component, students gained soft skills instruction and had an opportunity to experience different workplace cultures.

“The Gen Z Connection program is a perfect example of how great success can be created when engaged partners and stakeholders come together with a common goal,” says Megan Barnett-Livgard, EDAM President and GREATER MSP Business Retention and Expansion Manager. “The group showed strength in collaboration and worked together for an impressive outcome that will benefit not only eager students, but the manufacturing industry, as well.”

As part of a revamped recognition program in 2018, EDAM added new categories and worked to refresh the organization’s recognition process. The full EDAM awards program included awards for the Economic Developer of the Year, Emerging Professional of the Year, Project of the Year, Program of the Year, Redevelopment Project of the Year, Partnership Award, Marketing Award and Elected Public Official of the Year.

VHEDC received this award on behalf of the partners of the Gen Z Connections: Careers and Skills in Manufacturing project which provided paid, hands-on learning in manufacturing businesses in the areas. Ling, Becker, VHEDC Executive Director stated upon receiving the award, “We accept this award proudly on behalf of our partners. Without them, this project would not exist. Thanks to the commitment to build a future workforce Du Fresne Manufacturing, Mold Craft, Schwing America and the Specialty Mfg Co are to be commended. In addition, there were other essential partners as well including the White Bear Lake School District, Ramsey County, HIRED, and the White Bear Lake Area Education Foundation. This award truly represents what it means to be a community.”