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By Bob Michels, president of BATC and Housing First Minnesota
At every BATC committee meeting I attend, and virtually every industry function I’m at, the central topic of conversation is workforce. My generation had vocational training (shop class) in junior high and high school. These opportunities to explore the “what do you want to do when you grow up” question are no longer provided in our schools.
I’m so pleased that BATC and our advocacy arm, Housing First Minnesota, identified this as an issue two years ago, and began laying the groundwork for a comprehensive, industry-wide effort that we call Project Build Minnesota. BATC, the Minnesota Builders Exchange, Associated Building Contractors and TBG Education Foundation have stepped forward to lead this effort, and we have made great progress. Working with Bolin Marketing, we conducted extensive primary and secondary research to develop the right messages for parents, students, counselors and teachers. We’ve used that messaging in building out our Project Build Minnesota website, which showcases career opportunities in our industry.
The site continues to grow as more content is added regularly. We also exhibited at the Minnesota School Counselors Association conference this spring, and plan to attend the Minnesota School Boards Association annual conference this winter as well as the conference for the Minnesota Association of Secondary School Administrators.
We have a number of other organizations that are engaged as well, including the BATC Foundation, The Builders Group, TBG Education Foundation, Northwest Lumbermans Association, Minnesota Utility Contractors Association, several local builders associations and the Builders Association of Minnesota. We have a powerful marketing plan developed and the four leading organizations are now seeking the funding to achieve it. Many BATC members have stepped forward to provide funding for this effort, and we particularly want to thank our lumberyards for their engagement and financial support.
In addition, BATC and our partners are making state funding for this effort a priority in 2018. We will be seeking some state workforce development dollars to tell the great story of careers in our industry. Watch for more information and get ready to talk about this issue at Housing Day at the Capitol in the spring.
Speaking of the Capitol, 2018 brings with it one of the most important elections of the past several decades. After eight years in office, Gov. Dayton steps down and the top elected seat in Minnesota becomes open. There are more than a dozen major candidates for the office and here’s what really exciting – Housing First Minnesota is interviewing all gubernatorial candidates to understand their thoughts on the regulatory challenges facing housing and to gauge their view of the need to build safe, durable homes at a price families can afford.
So far this year, I’m truly proud of what we’ve achieved.
These changes came about because of the vision of our members and leaders to become engaged housing advocates in our state’s political and court systems through strength. We want to share this vision and our strength with everyone in the state of Minnesota. We want to get all building industry members engaged to make safe, affordable and durable housing for our neighbors a political priority. We look forward to mutual cooperation to build a strong Housing First presence throughout our state. Our board and staff are committed, are you?
I’ll close by thanking our outstanding volunteer and staff leadership at BATC/Housing First Minnesota. It really is a privilege to lead such a forward-thinking association.