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Jefferson property may be put to work

What will become of the Jefferson High School property next fall?

Nothing’s definite, but there’s an effort under way to look at the feasibility of using the property for local workforce training.

0 Talk about it

Jason Murray, executive director of the Alexandria Area Economic Development Commission, told the Echo Press, “We’re calling it a manufacturing partnership focusing on workforce training, but it hasn’t been defined yet.”

Last week, during a meeting with the Alexandria Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce’s legislative committee, Murray said the 44-acre site borders medical, health care and education and “…has long term ramifications to strengthen our opportunities in those three areas.

“We’ve also had conversations with manufacturing about apprenticeship programs and workforce needs,” he said.

Local manufacturers are noting shortages of welders and machinists, in particular.

“The [economic development authority] is taking the lead on it; we believe long-term, it’s in the best interest of the public to make some of those investments in education,” Murray said.

Construction architects and engineers will go through the school building in the coming days and a feasibility report is expected by February 12.

Murray said, “At that point, we’ll know the numbers and my plan is to sit down with [local legislators].”

There’s potential for a state bonding appropriations request. State Senator Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-District 8, and State Representative Mary Franson, R-District 8B, have been in on meetings about the potential redevelopment.

For now, Murray said, “We’ve got some rough numbers on demolition, but we want to see, first and foremost, if there’s a potential reuse, especially with the support of our local manufacturers with a training component to it.”

Amy Chaffins

Amy Chaffins is a journalist working for the Echo Press newspaper in Alexandria, Minnesota.

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