M State, American Crystal nominated for partnership award

January 27, 2020

Minnesota State Community and Technical College is one of five finalists for the 2020 Outstanding College/Corporate Partnership Award of Excellence from the American Association of Community Colleges.

M State was chosen for its longstanding partnership with American Crystal Sugar Company, which has worked closely with the college’s Workforce Development Solutions division to meet the company’s training needs.

Since 2013, M State has taught maintenance skills to hundreds of American Crystal production employees at the company’s five plants, training production workers to fill the need for additional maintenance staff during the off-season. The college also has provided training to enhance the skills of American Crystal’s maintenance staff company-wide and safety training for employees.

“M State is honored to be a finalist for this award and to showcase our strong partnership with American Crystal,” said WDS Executive Director G.L. Tucker. “Our partnership has continued to grow and expand as we work together to find innovative solutions to meet American Crystal’s needs.”

M State trains American Crystal workers both in the college’s flexible classrooms and lab spaces in Moorhead and on-site at the company’s production plants in western Minnesota and eastern North Dakota.

In addition, M State has brought its mobile training labs and equipment to the plants to teach welding skills to employees and provide additional hands-on training.

“The partnership we have fostered with M State is extremely valuable for American Crystal Sugar Company,” said Lisa Borgen, the company’s vice president of administration. “We work together to develop programs that enhance our team members’ skills, talents and leadership. We are very fortunate to have M State in our community and look forward to continued collaboration for the benefit of both our company and the college.”   

AACC’s Outstanding College/Corporate Partnership Award recognizes “local, regional and national collaboration between a college and corporate partner that has achieved demonstrable, multi-year success in advancing the mission of the institution, the economic prosperity of a community, region or the nation, and the learning excellence of students.”

Criteria for the award include partnerships that:

  • Advance the region’s economic prosperity and workforce competitiveness
  • Demonstrate outstanding and measurable outcomes in advancing student success
  • Provide innovative on-campus and workplace opportunities that engage students and employers
  • Provide resources available to the college and students
  • Close the American skills gap

Other finalists for the award are Central Arizona College and Sundt Construction; North Central Michigan College and Precision Edge Surgical Projects; Northeastern Technical College (South Carolina) and Schaeffler Group USA; and Rockland Community College (New York) and T-SEC.

“Collaborating with regional business and industry to advance the economic vitality of our Minnesota and North Dakota service area is a key component of M State’s mission,” said M State President Carrie Brimhall. “It’s a huge part of why our college exists.”

During the past 20 years, WDS has partnered with more than 500 regional businesses to provide custom-designed skills and technology training on site, in mobile units, online and on M State’s campuses in Detroit Lakes, Fergus Falls, Moorhead and Wadena. WDS provides more than 100,000 hours of training to over 6,000 students each year.

M State is also one of three finalists for the 2020 Award of Excellence in the category of Student Success.

The AACC will announce Award of Excellence winners at its annual convention in National Harbor, Md., on March 28-30.