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Business Education Network

Business education network Minnesota Chamber foundation

Employer-fueled solutions to Minnesota’s workforce shortage

The Minnesota Chamber Foundation’s Business Education Network (BEN) is a private-sector solution to employers’ urgent need to find skilled, qualified and ready workers for jobs available in communities across our state. BEN is employer-led, connecting students with high-demand careers in their community and region. Local chambers of commerce are the linchpin to the success of BEN. They drive these programs and connect area employers with K-12 and higher education leaders. Click below to read the full BEN five-year report. 

Examples of BEN programs include:

Business education network Teacher in the Workplace
Teacher in the Workplace
High school teachers experience immersion and exposure to certain industries by touring and/or working at businesses during the summer. The experience helps inform their curriculum and classroom training in key subjects.
Business education network career expos
Career Expos
Local employers host high school students in a “trade show” environment that lets them explore jobs and careers that are available where they live. Essential to the success of these events is the opportunity for hands-on exploration – the ability to experience what it’s like to be a nurse or a welder. It also creates connections between local employers and students that lead to internships and apprenticeships.
Business education network career academies
Career Academies
Career academies are customized to high schools and the economy of the region but provide specialized coursework, dual credit, as well as soft skills preparation and development. Local employers are engaged in career academies on day one and throughout the process, providing mentoring and internships. Direct connections often lead to permanent placement after graduation.
Business Education Network CEO in the Classroom
CEO in the Classroom
Focused at both the middle and high school, this effort brings business leaders into the schools. It not only helps the students understand careers in specific companies and the pathway to those jobs but helps inform and educate business leaders on what students and future workers are looking for in their future careers.

• Business tours
BEN partners provide students the opportunity to tour businesses, experience the operations and get a first-hand look at potential careers. These opportunities are significant in informing students’ decisions about higher education and future careers.

• Job boards
Many BEN partners facilitate job boards, providing connections between local employers and students seeking employment – whether part-time during the school year or full-time during the summer. Some of these opportunities develop into long-term relationships that extend to higher education opportunities and long-term employment.

Worker shortage 300,000+

111,000 unemployed 

worker shortage

BEN is driven by local employers and fueled by the engagement and partnership of students, parents and educators. Since 2016, BEN has provided thousands of students across Minnesota real-world experience in their communities. Students see first-hand what a range of jobs look like, from modern manufacturing and health care to culinary skills and welding. BEN not only showcases the jobs but highlights the path to achieving those careers – whether it is a high school diploma, certificate, two-year or four-year degree.

The Foundation is also integrating diversity, equity and inclusion strategies into the Business Education Network. Minnesota’s future population growth will be people of color, and it’s an economic imperative for all underrepresented workforce populations to have the opportunity to engage in the workforce, and that extends to students coming out of high school, whether that be racial diversity or those that face a physical or neuro disability. 

Business Education Network Partners

Brainerd Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce
Burnsville Chamber of Commerce 
Eden Prairie Chamber of Commerce
Faribault Area Chamber of Commerce
Fergus Falls Area Chamber of Commerce
Greater Mankato Growth
Lakeville Area Chamber of Commerce 
Marshall Area Chamber of Commerce
MetroNorth Chamber of Commerce
New Ulm Chamber of Commerce
Owatonna Area Chamber of Commerce
Princeton Chamber of Commerce
Redwood Area Chamber of Commerce
River Heights Chamber
Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce
Shakopee Area Chamber of Commerce
St. Cloud Area Chamber of Commerce
Twin Cities North Chamber of Commerce
Waconia Chamber of Commerce
White Bear Lake Area Chamber of Commerce
Willmar Lakes Area Chamber of Commerce
Winona Chamber of Commerce 

Want more information?

For more information or to start a Business Education Network in your community, contact Jennifer Byers at 651.292.4673 or