Greater Mankato Growth President and CEO Jonathan Zierdt said his group has been long focusing on expanding the pool of talented workers in the Mankato area.
"Talent is one of the most fundamental components of economic success. That's why this type of work, this focus is so important," Zierdt said.
Obama and Vice President Joe Biden announced the AMP program Wednesday at the Community College of Allegheny County West Hills Center in the western Pennsylvania borough of Oakdale.
Obama said the effort is a result of hearing from too many businesses that cannot find skilled workers for jobs they need to fill. On top of that, officials say many people who are looking for work may be open to learning new skills but need assurance that a job will be waiting for them at the end of a training program.
Obama's AMP program has two components.
The larger of the two grant programs will put nearly $500 million toward a job-training competition run by the Labor Department that aims to get employers and community colleges to create tailored job-training programs to fill existing job needs.
Another $100 million will be used for the American Apprenticeship Grants competition, aimed at apprentice programs such as the one being launched by SCC. It will focus on broad public/private/faith-based/nonprofit partnerships that help workers participate in apprenticeships
Obama used existing funds and executive actions to start the program.
Besides SCC's Minnesota apprentice program, colleges in California and Texas are leading similar programs.
Parker said SCC will also be applying for part of the $500 millions earmarked for job-training programs.