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The Minnesota International Institute is completing its $ 13.2 million expansion

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Immigrants and refugees coming to Minnesota will have more resources available to them, thanks to a multi-million dollar project.

Minnesota International Institute in St. Louis. Paul just completed a $ 13.2 million expansion.

“We added 18,000 square feet, almost doubling our space so we could expand our services,” said CEO Jane Graupman.

The institute has existed for 102 years, but its programs have recently seen rapid growth, requiring more space.

They built six new classrooms and interactive labs, where immigrants and refugees can receive free career training in hospitality, nursing and more.

Graupman said this will also help fill critical workforce shortages across the state.

“Immigrants and refugees are 97% of the new workers in our workforce in our country, so our demographics are changing. There are a lot of children retiring, so we really have a shortage of workers. “This is a staggering statistic to see that most of the people entering the Minnesota workforce are now young Americans,” Graupman said.

In addition to on-the-job training, the site offers free English courses, legal assistance and housing assistance.

The expansion project also features a donation room, where those in need can receive supplies for their homes, including kitchenware and sheets.

Graupman said most of the funding for the renovation project came from donors and individual foundations, though some came from state and federal government.

She noted that one of the biggest priorities in their design was to create a space that felt safe and welcoming to young Americans.

“The space at the institute feels somewhat sacred in a way, because we have people coming here who have gone through really untold things and events in their lives, so we just want to make sure all the signals here are welcome. , “Graupman. tha.

Sylvie Sahiri emigrated from the Ivory Coast to Africa and said the Institute helped her navigate her new life in Minnesota.

“Coming here, the emphasis was different, the culture was different, the eye contact was different. Everything was different! ” said Sahiri. “The institute helped me apply for college, get admitted to college, learn how to do interviews, all of that.”

Sahiri now lives in Woodbury and works as a home health nurse.

“It definitely changed my life and still changes my life now,” said Sahiri.

The renovation will allow the Institute to help at least 500 additional refugees and immigrants each year, in addition to the 3,000 new Americans already serving each year.

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