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Lundblad will attend State of Union address

Central Lakes College President Larry Lundblad will be the guest of Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., at Tuesday’s State of the Union address in Washington, D.C.

A statement from Franken’s office on Monday identified Lundblad as a leader in Minnesota for fostering partnerships between business and education that are designed to make sure workers have the right training and skills for available jobs.

“His efforts to close the skills gap are already helping students find unemployment and Minnesota manufacturers fill job openings,” Franken said in a statement.

A spokesman for Franken said the CLC president will sit in the spectators’ upper gallery in the House. Lundblad could not be reachd for comment Monday.

Franken said he will pursue legislation on work force development that will strengthen the relationship between colleges and businesses.

Central Lakes College was one of four Minnesota colleges to share in a $13 million U.S. Department of Labor grant on work force development.

Franken visited Brainerd in August and said he saw the partnership among Central Lakes College, the Brainerd Lakes Chamber, the Brainerd Lakes Area Economic Development Corp. and participating K-12 public school districts to make sure high school students are exposed to careers in manufacturing.

Brainerd Lakes Chamber Chief Executive Officer Lisa Paxton said she believed Lundblad’s invitation is a form of congratulations or kudos for the business-education partnership the college has fostered with the chamber’s Bridges Career Academies and Workplace Connection and participating school districts in the Brainerd lakes area.

Lundblad’s appearance was noted in the agenda for the Feb. 11 Brainerd School Board meeting under the category of District Recognitions: “Dr. Larry Lundblad, CLC president, and Sen. Al Franken in attendance with possible mention of the Bridges Academy Partnership.”

Brainerd School District Superintendent Steve Razidlo said he was informed that Lundblad, at a minimum, would be able to attend some of the State of the Union festivities as a result of the partnership endeavors between area school districts, the chamber and the college.

Bridges Career Academies and Workplace Connection is designed to connect students with the Brainerd lakes area work force while earning high school and college credits.

Participating school districts are: Aitkin, Bertha-Hewitt, Brainerd, Browerville, Crosby-Ironton, Eagle Valley, Freshwater District, Henning, Isle, Little Falls, Long Prairie-Grey Eagle, Menahga, Onamia, Pequot Lakes, Pierz, Pillager, Pine River-Backus, Sebeka, Staples-Motley, Swanville, Upsala, Verndale and Wadena-Deer Creek.

MIKE O’ROURKE, associate editor, may be reached at 855-5860 or He may be followed at

Mike O'Rourke
Mike O'Rourke began his career at the Brainerd Dispatch in 1978 as a general assignment reporter. He was named city editor in 1981 and associate editor in 1999. He covers politics and writes features and editorials.
(218) 855-5860