WILLMAR -- The MinnWest Technology Campus has received a $202,500 grant that will open the door for several new education initiatives this summer.
The grant is from the Minnesota Renewable Energy Marketplace through its Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development initiative.
Projects to be funded by the grant include hiring two engineering interns for Nova-Tech Engineering and two biology interns for Epitopix, both businesses with facilities on the campus. The interns will be hired for this summer.
The grant will also help fund a joint project of St. Cloud State University and Ridgewater College. The plan includes using a mobile science education lab from St. Cloud State to provide training for science teachers in K-12 schools, said Tim Miller of Development Partners, a business which contracts with MinnWest.
The mobile lab will be used this summer to introduce about 25 teachers to methodologies that may help get students excited about careers in science, technology, engineering or math.
Organizers hope that the grant projects will help get young people interested in technology-related careers.
Another goal is to convince young people interested in those careers to think about returning to the area after finishing college.
"The four internships have really raised a lot of awareness," Miller said. Several other companies in the region are looking into developing internships to introduce top students to the area.
The grant is "a good primer to get some of these programs going," Miller said, and the organizations involved in the grant have made a commitment to keep the programs going.
MinnWest has 20 technology and support companies on its campus, which is located on the grounds of the former Willmar Regional Treatment Center.