Community leaders and residents held a grand opening celebration today for the Cedar Riverside Opportunity Center—a pipeline for jobs and educational resources with a special focus on the neighborhood’s East African community.
Anchor partners for the center include nonprofit EMERGE Community Development, Hennepin County, City of Minneapolis and Minneapolis Community and Technical College. It is located in the first floor of the Five15 on the Park building, 515 15th Ave. S.
The center will feature programming by EMERGE Community Development, including workforce development, youth employment and education, and personal finance tips. Hennepin County Library will lead a Teen Tech Squad, develop programs that support cultural heritage, conduct employment-focused learning circles, and connect participants to library and neighborhood resources.
Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC) services at the center will include a career navigator who will provide guidance to pathways and college programs that offer the greatest job placement and wage opportunities and Metro Connect, a resource that allows prospective students to find the most affordable college options available at Minnesota State campuses in the metro area.
City Council Member Abdi Warsame said: “Now that the Cedar Riverside Opportunity Center is open, people in the neighborhood can access a wide array of resources that will help put them on a path to good jobs and high quality education. The center will be an invaluable resource in helping residents in my community find the tools they need to pursue their dreams.”
Key goals of the center include reducing the neighborhood’s unemployment rate and increasing access to a variety of educational programs. Employers with a strong recruiting presence include MSP Jobs, Schwan’s, Hennepin County, Fairview Health Services, Medtronic, City of Minneapolis, University of Minnesota, Augsburg College and St. Catherine University.
EMERGE associate director Mohamed Ali, who oversees the center’s operations, said it has tremendous potential to change lives for the better. “I am excited that the Cedar Riverside Opportunity Center will be a place filled with opportunities for the youth of the neighborhood. There is great need in the community for higher education, career skill building and job placement. We will be able to meet these needs with credentialed training opportunities and higher pay,” he said.
Hennepin County Commissioner Peter McLaughlin said the Opportunity Center will directly connect the neighborhood residents to jobs. “Cedar Riverside is a thriving neighborhood with a high unemployment rate,” he said. “By attracting the support of nine large employer partners, with a combined workforce of over 30,000 employees, this Opportunity Center will close the opportunity gap and reduce the unemployment rate by giving residents access to jobs.”
Mayor Betsy Hodges said the center will help address the City’s disparities. “This is a great day for the Cedar Riverside neighborhood and the City of Minneapolis,” Hodges said. “Access to good jobs is the best way to eliminate economic and opportunity disparity in our city. To truly become One Minneapolis, where everyone has a chance to thrive, we have to close that gap. The opening of this Opportunity Center is a bold step in that direction, and I’m proud to have been part of making it a reality.”