Edmundo Lijo (Assistant City Attorney, St. Paul), Rep. Alice Hausman, Hamse Warfa (Deputy Commissioner, Workforce Development – Department of Employment and Economic Development), Sen. Foung Hawj, Rep. Jon Koznick, Jane Graupman, (Executive Director), Kate Tilney (Next Century Campaign Co-Chair and International Institute of Minnesota Board Member) and Blessing Aghayedo, RN (Medical Career Advancement Graduate and International Institute of Minnesota volunteer).
Institute leaders and invited guests gathered at 1694 Como Avenue in Saint Paul on June 10 to celebrate a ceremonial groundbreaking for the International Institute of Minnesota’s renovation and major expansion.
Work officially began in February of 2021 to add 16,000 square feet to the existing 18,000 square foot headquarters. JDD Studio (formerly James Dayton Design) designed the new space and Stahl Construction is the contractor. The larger, enhanced new home for the Institute will provide the opportunity to expand education and workforce development programs.
Institute Board Member and Campaign for the Next Century Co-Chair Kate Tilney welcomed guests, reminding the crowd that the day was about more than four walls. “The physical presence of a building is powerful and its structure important,” Tilney stated. “But in the end, it is the energy and productivity and spirit of the people filling its expanse that will bring it to life.”
Adding capacity for growing education and workforce development programs is a key goal for the expansion. “The Institute provides tuition assistance, academic and career guidance and wrap-around support for New Americans like me who wish to advance their medical careers and become the next generation of leaders in Minnesota’s healthcare industry,” explained Blessing Aghayedo, RN, who is a former Medical Careers Pathway participant and current program volunteer.
Hamse Warfa, Deputy Commissioner for Economic Development at the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development thanked supporters, noting that they “are not only providing a place for New Americans to fulfill their dreams and ambitions, but with your support to the Institute, you are also showing New Americans they are welcome, valued, recognized as contributing members of our society.”
The campaign has raised more than $9 million from the State of Minnesota, family, community and corporate foundations, and the generosity of individual supporters. More than $2 million is still needed to complete the campaign and ensure effective and efficient growth into the new space.
The Institute looks forward to welcoming the Institute community back to 1694 Como Avenue in early 2022. Staff continue to serve New Americans remotely and in temporary office spaces during construction.
- International Institute breaks ground. Kelly Busche, Finance & Commerce. June 11, 2021.
- International Institute of Minnesota marks expansion, renovation of St. Paul facility. Ava Kian, Pioneer Press. June 11, 2021.
- International Institute of Minnesota’s $12.5M expansion will extend services to 500 more refugees. Dee DePass, Star Tribune. June 7, 2021.
Photos ©2021 Bruce Kluckhohn