Your NDSGA has been a part of the fairly new Workforce Development group out of the Greater North Dakota Chamber as they work to find solutions to our state’s need for workers. Today’s presenter was Katie Ralston who is the new leader of the Commerce Department’s Workforce Division and she explained in detail to the group what Commerce is attempting to do coming up in the looming legislative session. Last session we supported the passage of a Career Builders bill (1171) which passed. It made available some funding help for college students in areas that the Ag industry needs. Because it was new, much of the money available was not utilized so Commerce is working to help educators market the program. They are also working through the North Dakta Studies classroom program to show students the opportunities in industry and may use Virtual Reality to take students, for example, onto an oil pad which is too unsafe for an actual visit. They are also trying to help people about to exit our Corrections system by changing some background check info with potentially a Certificate Program used in other states. I believe they have some funds to match wages for 6 months. A new program, it will start in Fargo and Bismarck. I asked her if discussion for Ag help was included and she said she would like input there. Ralston popped a stat that startled me when she said that 213,000 North Dakotans have a conviction when a background check is done. I guess I have led a sheltered life. I will let you know what is happening when any of this hits the session. We still have 19,000 jobs open in North Dakota.