Guest column: Many careers and opportunities in the Albert Lea-Freeborn County area

Published 8:45 pm Friday, September 8, 2023

Guest column by Shari Sprague and Valerie Kvale

Living in the Albert Lea-Freeborn County area is truly a privilege. Our community offers an exceptional quality of life, blending opportunities for work, relaxation and enjoyment throughout the year. From well-maintained neighborhoods to a diverse array of businesses, recreational spots and year-round events, our region has it all.

Shari Sprague

One of the cornerstones of our thriving community is the Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce. Comprising 345 member businesses and 10 dynamic Chamber committees, it stands as a testament to our commitment to fostering a balanced work-life environment. Together, these groups share a common aspiration: to enhance the appeal of Albert Lea and Freeborn County as exceptional places to both work and live. We are dedicated to enlightening our community about the abundance of opportunities available right here in our own backyard, encompassing outstanding businesses, industries, educational pathways and career prospects.

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Among the Chamber’s dedicated committees is the Business Education Collaborative. Comprising 11 enthusiastic individuals representing various sectors, including education (from K-12 to post-secondary), manufacturing, health care, trades, economic development and workforce development, the collaborative has a clear mission: to elevate our community’s quality of life by nurturing collaborative partnerships between businesses and education.

The collaborative has set forth three key goals:

Valerie Kvale

• Fostering educational collaboration: The Business Education Collaborative is actively working to strengthen partnerships with educational institutions in Freeborn County, with a focus on creating “school-to-work” and career exploration opportunities.

• Coordinating educational programs: The collaborative is dedicated to organizing educational initiatives that align with the needs of local businesses, promoting the development of a skilled workforce.

• Promoting collaborations: The collaborative aims to educate, inform and inspire local businesses and communities to engage in meaningful collaborations that will benefit our region as a whole.

In the coming months, the collaborative will share valuable information with our readers. This content will delve into various career fields within our community, shedding light on future trends in these industries, educational pathways, wage structures and growth prospects. Our ultimate objective is to raise awareness of the remarkable career opportunities available right in our own backyard. We aim to equip our readers with insights into the skills, education and experiences required for these career paths. By doing so, we hope to play a pivotal role in assisting local employers in filling vacant positions and fortifying our local workforce.

In conclusion, we are fortunate to call the Albert Lea-Freeborn County area our home, and we are equally fortunate to have a Chamber of Commerce and committees like the collaborative dedicated to ensuring that it remains a remarkable place to live, work and grow. Together, we are building a brighter future for our community.

Stay tuned for exciting updates and insights from the Business Education Collaborative in the months ahead.

Shari Sprague is the executive director of the Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce. Valerie Kvale works for Workforce Development Inc. and is the Chamber Business Education Collaborative lead.