On a sunny Monday morning, the Sundance team gathered with youth from several YSE organizations at the sunny offices of 800 West Broadway. 800 West Broadway is a nonprofit that offers, among other services, a workforce center that supports and trains job seekers. As the team boarded a bright yellow school bus bound for Brooklyn Park, the group chatted about all the things to consider when looking for a job. How do you apply? What skills should you highlight if interviewed? If you get the position, how much will it pay? And when it comes time to go to work every morning, how will you get there?
This question was on the minds of many as they made the trip out—they had time to consider the distance during the 20 minute bus ride from middle of North Minneapolis.
The destination? Design Ready Controls (DRC), a control panel and wiring harness manufacturer headquartered in Brooklyn Park. The facilities are large and modern, and the DRC campus includes a main building and a warehouse that sit at the cloverleaf interchange of two highways 169 and 610.
When driving up to DRC, the large campus rises out of the background of prairie-like land, taking up 110,000 square feet on the otherwise flat background. Though DRC recently moved to this large site built in 2015, they’re already filling the space completely and continuing to grow. DRC now has manufacturing facilities across North America in Oklahoma, Oregon, and Virginia.
At their Minnesota offices, the grounds are landscaped minimalistically and are filled with native grasses and plants that require little upkeep, making them a good choice on both environmental and efficiency levels. This philosophy is carried into the inside. The facilities are paperless, which helps cut down on waste, and for a factory, the space is surprisingly bright, well-organized, and energy efficient.
For many on the tour, this was their first visit to a manufacturer. Though not all who visited intend to pursue a career in manufacturing, the trip let them see the inside of an expanding field that usually exists only out of both sight and mind. DRC and many manufacturers like them have entry level jobs they’re seeking to fill, but often have trouble finding workers. Enterprise Minnesota’s “The State of Manufacturing” suggests that “The workforce shortage—for skilled and unskilled employees—looms large as a likely impediment to future growth to manufacturers across the board.”
In other words, the jobs exist. It’s finding people to do the work that presents the problem—a problem that companies like DRC are trying to fix before a crisis hits. This is where Sundance and 800 West Broadway came together; it seems an obvious solution to introduce manufacturers in need of workers to people seeking employment.
There is one-size-fits-all solution, of course. Though it makes sense for DRC to be headquartered where there is room to expand, transportation is an issue for some potential workers. Folks on both sides of the worker/employer equation understand that paradox. Still, solutions are on the horizon. Leaders at DRC are in talks with the city of Brooklyn Park about expanding bus service out to their campus.
DRC also makes taking steps towards employment easy. Today’s youth are often highly computer literate, a skill which makes them great candidates for the job, even right out of high school. Further, for anyone with engineering or other technical ambitions, DRC offers paths towards taking college classes.