WORTHINGTON Unprecedented career opportunities exist across southwest Minnesota, and Minnesota West is asking our state to continue its strategic investments to support area talent in seeking new skills and education. Social and economic mobility for our students and their families remains our purpose. Self-sufficiency, strong families, and vibrant communities is the outcome.

Over the past six years, the State of Minnesota has recognized and made these types of strategic investments. Such has included Workforce Development Scholarships, career academies, financial support for technology and infrastructure, and college base aid. Area representatives and senators have advocated strongly for and been successful in advancing policy and focused financial provisions in partnership with school districts, industry partners and Minnesota West. We are grateful for their dedication, advocacy and public service.

Area legislators also hold us accountable for assuring limited state resources are invested in our region’s well-being. Minnesota West is our region’s college and 84% of our graduates stay, live and raise their families in this great state. Advocacy, focused investments and accountability connects area talent with great careers in our communities.

Today we ask for the state’s continued strategic and focused investments in advancing the social and economic mobility of our students and their families. The Minnesota State system remains the most affordable, innovative and responsive solution during this unprecedented period of career opportunity and economic recovery. Our budget request is laser-focused; direct financial support for our students and a modest inflationary-linked increase in college base aid.

Thank you, representatives and senators, school district leaders, industry partners, philanthropic organizations and area non-profits for all working together in assuring the well-being of southwest Minnesota. Such focus and commitment advances self-sufficiency, strong families and vibrant communities.

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Terry Gaalswyk is president of Minnesota West Community & Technical College.