Businesses invited to Bluff Country Collaborative Stakeholder Summit


Is your business or organization interested in building workforce pipelines and raising awareness of career opportunities in your community?

Representatives from Southeast Minnesota businesses and community organizations are invited to attend the Bluff Country Collaborative Stakeholder Summit on Tuesday, August 20, from 9-11 a.m. The event will be held at MiEnergy Cooperative located at 31110 Cooperative Way in Rushford Village. The goal of the event is to raise awareness of the Bluff Country Collaborative, a partnership of eight local schools, more than 50 businesses, and several area economic development agencies who are working together to create experiential learning opportunities for students and connect them with jobs in local companies.

Experiential learning ranges from classroom presentations by local businesses to industry site tours to job shadowing, mentorships, and internships. The Bluff Country Collaborative is now ready to take the next steps to grow experiential learning opportunities for high school students in Fillmore, Houston, and Winona counties.

To kick off a pilot year, the Bluff Country Collaborative is looking for local businesses and organizations that may be interested in partnering with local school districts to offer experiential learning programming and/or contributing financially to secure an experiential learning coordinator who would be a point person on these efforts between schools and business.

This effort began in summer 2017, when local economic development staff representing Community and Economic Development Associates (CEDA) and Workforce Development, Inc., (WDI) in Houston and Fillmore counties were engaged in conversation with businesses about their dire need for employees. These conversations revealed that regional employers wanted to engage with local students to build workforce pipelines but did not have connections to the schools and the capacity to manage a program.

Meanwhile, the Southeast Perkins Consortium was facilitating conversations with area school districts to discuss experiential learning opportunities. These school districts were eager to provide experiential learning opportunities for their students and would benefit from working with community and business partners to offer programming on a larger scale.

Once leaders from these groups converged, it was immediately clear that there was an opportunity to create a “bridge” between the schools and businesses. This new partnership ultimately formed the Bluff Country Collaborative, an innovative effort to connect business, education, local government, and organizations committed to the economic sustainability of the region.

For more information or to RSVP to the August 20 summit please visit, contact CEDA Director of Community Engagement Courtney Bergey Swanson at 507-251-9272,, or Fillmore and Houston counties WDI Business Relations Liaison Dee Slinde at 507-951-7092 or


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