Minnesota economic development agency adds new outreach office

Three people stand in front of a building
Officials gathered in Brooklyn Park, Minn., on Tuesday to announce the creation of a new Office of Public Engagement within the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. Speakers included (from left): Maureen Ramirez, director of the new office; Nelima Sitati Munene, executive director of African Career Education & Resource, Inc.; and Marc Majors, deputy commissioner at DEED.
Brian Bakst | MPR News

A new unit at the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) plans to work with populations that face more difficulty finding work or creating businesses.

The Office of Public Engagement was announced Tuesday at an event in Brooklyn Park. It will have staff devoted to working with entrepreneurs, job seekers and groups aiming to correct workforce disparities — unifying the department's outreach efforts in a single office.

Maureen Ramirez is director of the new office. She said the goal is to be an outlet for overlooked communities — whether that’s translating key materials, or ensuring representation when it comes to developing grant criteria.

Ramirez said the new office will include “both sides of our house (in DEED): workforce development and economic development. So that’ll be job seekers and small business owners, entrepreneurs, employers as well.”

A woman stands at a podium
Maureen Ramirez, director of the new Office of Public Engagement within the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, speaks at an event in Brooklyn Park on Tuesday.
Brian Bakst | MPR News

The office will have a small staff to start and was created using existing department funding.

Marc Majors, deputy commissioner at the DEED, said the engagement office will be about collaboration.

“We’re creating two-way streets between our community partners to exchange ideas, to build transparency, to build trust, to be more problem-solving so we can deliver better services moving forward,” he said.

The Office of Public Engagement has a phone hotline (651-356-5423), but a key objective will be to have a physical presence at community festivals, and work alongside established entities.

"The creation of this office elevates our capacity to reach diverse communities across our state," DEED Commissioner Steve Grove said in a news release. "Success will be defined by how well we’re able to expand pathways for more people to access DEED’s programs, and ensuring our work meets the needs of Minnesotans we are trying to serve.”

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