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New DEED Office of Public Engagement focused on improving inclusion efforts

WCCO Radio Minneapolis logo WCCO Radio Minneapolis 6/28/2022 Mark Freie
DEED © Provided by WCCO Radio Minneapolis DEED

A new Office of Public Engagement announced on Tuesday by the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) looks to connect with Minnesotans most impacted by racial and other disparities in employment.

DEED stated the new office will bring together all of their outreach efforts under one roof and work more directly with the population Minnesota including gender, sexual orientation, geography, race/ethnicity, national origin, color, disability, age, or other protected groups.

"We've been told by a number of communities that DEED needs more outreach and more inclusion," Marc Majors, DEED Deputy Commissioner of Workforce Development, said. "That's why having this new Office of Public Engagement is so critical as we move forward at DEED."

DEED is increasing staff levels to meet the work ahead of them. Maureen Ramirez, Director of DEED’s Office of Public Engagement, said that the office will be extremely visible during a number of events this summer and into the fall, including both the Hmong International Freedom festival and the Somali Independence Day celebration this weekend.

"In the last three years we've really transformed our outreach efforts and this is another step in that process," Ramirez said. "During the pandemic, that meant a lot of conversations about unemployment insurance, our small business relief, and a lot of targeted work."

According to DEED, the outreach comes at a critical time for Minnesota's economy. While the state’s population grew 8.9% over the past decade, the state’s Black or African American population increased 54.9%, the equivalent of more than 140,000 new residents, accounting for just over 30% of total population growth.

Just over 50% of Minnesota's recent labor force growth has been driven by immigrants.

"As a community organization we welcome having an Office of Public Engagement in agency," added Nelima Sitati Munene, Executive Director, African Career, Education & Resources Inc. "We all know that the pandemic exacerbated economic challenges in our communities and there is a greater need now more than ever to walk together to invest more resources and rebuild faster to meet peoples' needs."

The office, put together with existing department funding, will have a small number of staff and can be reached at 651-356-5423.

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