Elk River is a Thriving Hub of Success for Minnesota’s Workforce

Elk River is a Thriving Hub of Success for Minnesota’s Workforce Main Photo

26 Feb 2020

Elk River is a thriving hub of success for Minnesota’s workforce and the businesses that call it home. People prefer to work in Elk River versus bigger city alternatives because the area offers several advantages. Elk River has a highly educated population, an ideal location, excellent transportation options and a variety of workforce development programs to catalyze the continued evolution of employees in the area. 

Elk River is Home to a Variety of Industries 

Businesses both big and small have chosen Elk River as their primary location for a long time, and employers from all areas of the business sector call the city home. There are nearly 1,000 businesses operating currently in Elk River, with approximately 12,000 people employed. 

Manufacturing, Construction and Wholesale Trade are a few of the top industries currently operating in Elk River. The community is also home to two Fortune 50 data centers, two medical device technology manufacturers, four energy-related companies and a high concentration of metal product fabrication companies. These industries enjoy a mutually beneficial relationship with the city. 

Accessibility is Key in Elk River

Elk River has an ideal location only 35-minutes from the Twin Cities, St. Cloud, St. Cloud Technical College and Anoka-Ramsey Community College. The city has the benefits of a small-town feel while still being close to other major cities. The great location brings a variety of amenities for workers and businesses alike. 

Elk River is located on Highways 10, 169, 101 and is only a few minutes away from Interstate 94. Access to these major highways makes commuting simple for anyone. This also provides easy access to workers who live in bigger cities looking for work nearby. 

Northstar Commuter Rail runs 40 miles from Big Lake to downtown Minneapolis, making stops in Elk River along the way. This allows for quick commuter access to and from nearby cities like Minneapolis, Coon Rapids, Fridley, Big Lake and St. Cloud, empowering the workforce dynamic even more. 

“We work together to make things easier for businesses.” 

– The City of Elk River

The Highly Educated Population of Elk River 

Elk River is part of the eighth largest school district in Minnesota, ISD #728. The progressive district is located 35 miles northwest of Minneapolis and is ranked #1 in mathematics of the top 10 school districts in enrollment and #3 in reading and science. On state and national exams, students in this district outperform the majority of their peers locally and nationally. These statistics show that even from a young age, students from Elk River are excelling in academics. 

There is a high percentage of people with Bachelor’s and Master degrees in Elk River, and the high school graduation rate is over 94 percent. The population also benefits from a variety of higher education opportunities. There are 19 public and private colleges in the area. Two industry-leading schools of science and engineering, the University of Minnesota and the University of St. Thomas, are only a short drive from the city as well. 

The well-rounded K-12 education combined with the proximity to stellar higher education opportunities breeds an intelligent and capable population ready for the workforce.     

Workforce Development Programs

While the superior school district and dedicated student population certainly contribute to the success of the Elk River workforce, employees in the city also thrive in part because of the workforce development programs that the City of Elk River offers them. 

Youth Skills Training Program

One such example of the excellent Elk River workforce development programs is the Youth Skills Training Program (YST). This ongoing program between the ISD #728 School District and employers in the Elk River area would not exist without the dedication of local employers willing to help develop the next generation of workers.

The YST grant program helps prepare the next generation in trade work skills. It provides an opportunity to connect high school students to area businesses, allowing them to learn local business practices and gain industry recognized credentials in a safe environment.

“Youth Skills Training provides a meaningful learning experience for students where they are able to connect what they are learning in school with the real world,” says Amy Lord, Career and Technical Education Coordinator for District #728.

Students are paid while learning employability skills and earning high school credit for graduation. Many students involved in the program work full time after graduation, or they work part time during breaks and summers while pursuing postsecondary education.

Anoka Technical College Partnership

Another workforce development program that Elk River offers is its partnership program with Anoka Technical College (ATC). ATC has several valuable partnerships with businesses around the area. The college works with area companies to offer curriculum and training specific to the skills needed by the businesses. The partnership ensures that businesses have a ready and skilled workforce and that local students will have employment opportunities upon graduation. 

Additional Training Programs

Elk River also offers adult employment and training programs through the Office of Adult Career Pathways, Central Minnesota Jobs and Training Services, and the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce: Center for Workforce Solutions. These resources provide further education and skill development to the workers of Elk River. The City of Elk River is dedicated to ensuring the hard-working workforce in the area is not only succeeding, but thriving.

To learn more about Elk River’s thriving workforce click here to visit their economic development website.