Clow is First Contributor to Bridges Manufacturing Scholarship Fund
LITTLE FALLS, MN — Clow Stamping Company President and Chief Executive Officer Reggie Clow is the first Brainerd Lakes area manufacturer to make a contribution to the new Initiative Foundation-hosted Bridges Manufacturing Scholarship Fund. The fund will benefit post-secondary students in Cass, Crow Wing, Morrison, Todd and Wadena counties.
“Providing post-secondary scholarships is a key strategy for attracting students to manufacturing careers which will result in a new generation of skilled workers,” said Kathy Gaalswyk, president of the Initiative Foundation. “This designated fund, designed to help students pursue advanced manufacturing skills, is critical for businesses in our region to develop a qualified manufacturing workforce.”
The idea to create the fund began with a thank-you note Clow received in 2015 for a donation he made to a Central Lakes College student. Clow’s gift helped him to realize there’s more that can be done to develop manufacturing skills while shoring up the wave of retirements under way in the region and across the nation.
“The bulk of the Baby Boomers haven’t retired yet, but it’s coming — and it’s coming fast,” said Clow, whose family-owned Merrifield-based company employs 429 people with the capacity to add three to five new two-year technical school graduates each year. “This fund represents a way to bring forth some scholarship money to help students earn their two-year degrees.”
Clow has committed to giving $5,000 annually to the fund. Clow and Matt Kilian, president of the Brainerd Lakes Chamber of Commerce, will partner with the Initiative Foundation and a number of Brainerd Lakes area organizations to grow the fund. Partners include the Brainerd Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce Education Association, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, in collaboration with Bridges Career Academies and Workplace Connection, Lakes Area Manufacturers Alliance (LAMA) and other training, education and workforce development partners.
“Advanced manufacturing is the cornerstone of our region’s economy, paying good wages and offering significant opportunities for advancement,” said Don Hickman, vice president for community and workforce development at the Initiative Foundation. “At a time when concerns about student debt are a significant barrier, this fund will help open doors for upward mobility to those ready to develop skills which enhance employability.”
A strong presence in Central Minnesota for three decades, the Initiative Foundation hosts Turn Key partner funds and leads a variety of leadership programs that enable citizens to build stronger communities. With a mission of economic and community development, the Foundation works with businesses and higher education leaders throughout the region to identify opportunities for job creation and job growth. Learn more at ifound.org.
Bridges Career Academies and Workplace Connection will coordinate promotional activities for the Bridges Manufacturing Scholarship Fund, and an advisory group from LAMA will review applications for scholarships and provide recommendations to the Initiative Foundation. Scholarships can support tuition, materials and equipment expenses for manufacturing-related educational and training programs at public and private institutions.
“Partnerships are the path to success,” said Kilian, president of the Brainerd Lakes Chamber. “I know firsthand what the Initiative Foundation brings to the table. When you combine their assets with those of our area high schools, colleges and businesses like Clow Stamping, we can make a big impact with our workforce needs.”
Tax-deductible donations will be encouraged from a range of businesses, individuals and organizations that recognize this unique workforce development opportunity. To support the Bridges Manufacturing Workforce Development Fund, contact the Initiative Foundation at (877) 632-9255 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Initiative Foundation
Celebrating its 30-year anniversary in 2016, the Initiative Foundation exists to improve the quality of life and to build stronger communities within its 14-county region of Central Minnesota by offering business financing, technical assistance, nonprofit grants, donor services and leadership training. Since 1986, the Initiative Foundation has invested more than $76 million in the region through targeted grants and business financing investments.