Klobuchar meets with Molly Yeh, talks workforce, child care needs in East Grand Forks – Grand Forks Herald


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EAST GRAND FORKS – U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minnesota, joined Molly Yeh, the owner of Bernie’s, and East Grand Forks Mayor Steve Gander to talk about workforce, housing and child care needs in Minnesota during a media event on Wednesday, Jan. 11.

After ordering food from the local restaurant, which opened in early October and meeting with local leaders, Klobuchar recalled the other towns and local businesses throughout Minnesota she’s visited before coming to East Grand Forks and what she has noticed along the way.

“Really every place, whether it’s small or big, we’re seeing the same thing. We’re seeing a vibrant economy, that’s for sure. We’re seeing an incredibly low unemployment rate, which is a good thing except for when you need more workers,” she said.

Klobuchar said for more workers can be linked to getting people degrees, especially for trade jobs, which have the most openings.

There is also a lack of available housing for young adults and seniors, she said. Child care has also been a top issue, which has been linked to people leaving their jobs.

Additionally, because of the pandemic and policies, Klobuchar said it has gotten difficult for people to get work permits and the proper visas.

“This is especially hurting us in the ag area and manufacturing and tourism and in health care technology and the service industry,” she said.

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Sen. Amy Kloubuchar makes a point during a visit to Bernie’s in East Grand Forks Tuesday, January 11, 2023.

Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

One of the bills Klobuchar has introduced is named Conrad 30, which would increase the number of doctors able to work in rural and medically underserved communities. The Conrad State 30 and Physician Access Reauthorization Act would allow international doctors to remain in the U.S. upon completing their residency under the condition that they practice in areas experiencing doctor shortages.

Other top priorities Klobuchar has for workforce include lifting caps on visas, vetting people more quickly and giving Afghan refugees already in the U.S. a status so they can more permanently live and work in the U.S.

“To me it is really backwards if we don’t move forward by getting some more workers in the pipeline and you can do that in many ways with as we know apprenticeships, good schools, with better child care, more affordable child care,” she said

During the event Klobuchar also praised Yeh and her local business. Gander said Bernie’s brings in a unique place for the downtown area to benefit not only the residents, but also those coming to East Grand Forks for the restaurant.

Gander said Bernie’s has the opportunity to be “extra special” along with the other unique local places that make up downtown.

“We’re thankful for all of that,” Gander said.

Klobuchar said she’s excited about how well Greater Minnesota is doing, but it needs to keep going.

“I’m so proud of this part of the state and I want it to remain strong and the solution sometimes can be a little complicated to discuss as we know,” she said. “But instead of just blaming everyone which sometimes goes on in politics, I think we really need to step back and say it’s a combination of things so let’s figure out how we move forward to get people so they can expand.”

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