Workforce Development Grants now available, up to $1,000 per individual, from the Duluth Area Chamber Foundation

The Duluth Area Chamber Foundation is now awarding Workforce Development Grants, up to $1,000 per individual, to help address workforce needs in the region. Grants can be used for short-term required trainings, education, certificates, testing and more. The grant application is now available on the Duluth Area Chamber Foundation’s website. The goal of the program is to help address regional workforce needs by helping connect potential employees with local employers seeking to hire, while also helping remove barriers to employment, promoting career opportunities of local businesses/Duluth Area Chamber members and helping recruit and retain workforce talent to our region. The Duluth Area Chamber Foundation will work to determine eligibility of each applicant. Preference will be given to applications related to careers at businesses/organizations who are active members of the Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce. Preference will also be given to in-demand career fields and those who can demonstrate a clear path to a successful career in the Northland. Each application will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. If you are determined to be eligible and approved, and funding is still available, Chamber Foundation staff will follow up with you to discuss next steps. Limit one grant per individual and/or a total of up to $1,000.00 per individual. Please contact if you have any questions or need assistance with the application.

This funding is made possible as the Duluth Area Chamber Foundation was awarded $50,000 in Opportunity Funds from Wisconsin Business Development (WBD, Inc.) to help address workforce challenges in the NE Minnesota and NW Wisconsin region. WBD recently expanded their footprint to include all of Wisconsin, Minnesota and a portion of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The goal of WBD’s Opportunity Funds is to Grow Businesses, Create Jobs and Build Communities. WBD and the Duluth Area Chamber Foundation are now strategically partnering to help support local businesses, local potential employees and to help connect the two and remove barriers of potential employment. This work is well-aligned with the mission and vision of the Duluth Area Chamber Foundation and is in response to results from a survey commissioned by the Duluth Area Chamber Foundation in the fall of 2023. When local residents were asked about their top concerns and where they’d like the Chamber Foundation to focus and prioritize efforts, they identified housing, downtown safety, taxes and workforce challenges as the top concerns. While the Duluth Area Chamber and Duluth Chamber Foundation are actively working on all those issues, and more, the Duluth Chamber Foundation has stepped up even more on workforce development efforts, including working closely with WBD, Inc. to apply for and be awarded this initial round of Opportunity Funds.

“We continue to hear from Duluth Area Chamber members and local businesses about workforce challenges and needs,” said Daniel Fanning, executive director of the Duluth Chamber Foundation and vice president of the Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce. “Thanks to our partnership and strong relationship with WBD, we’re excited to announce we have received this initial $50,000 in funding to help proactively address workforce needs, remove potential barriers to employment and help make connections between potential employees and local businesses seeking to hire. Now we are launching this grant program and believe this is just the first step of a steadfast commitment to help support local employers and help retain and recruit workforce talent in our region. We will continue to partner with a variety of local employers and seek to grow funding opportunities to support these ongoing efforts, which can truly be a win/win for potential employees, local businesses and our local economy. The beauty of these funds is that they are flexible and can be tailored to meet the needs of local employers and potential employees. From healthcare, skilled trades, manufacturing, small businesses, larger corporations and everything in between, we are ready and willing to do all we can to help support local businesses and potential employees. The Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce and Chamber Foundation have strong relationships with the local business community, with local labor leaders, and are in a great position to help bridge some of these gaps with potential employees. Working collaboratively with a variety of other local organizations and community partners in a variety of areas and communities, we’ll strive to put these funds to the best and most impactful use possible while funding lasts. We are grateful for the partnership with WBD, Inc, as well as with all our Duluth Area Chamber members and businesses/organizations throughout the region. Together, we’ll continue to effectively address workforce and other challenges and opportunities facing our business community.”

More information and the online application are now available on the Chamber Foundation’s website. Local businesses looking to potentially partner with the Chamber Foundation are welcome to contact for more information.

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The voice of business since 1870, the Duluth Area Chamber of Commerce serves as the premier advocate for commerce and industry by facilitating collaboration between the leaders of business, government, education, labor and the greater community. The Chamber, currently with approximately 1,000 members, actively creates innovative opportunities for business to advance within local and regional economies. To learn more, please visit:

The Chamber Foundation was launched in 2022 as a 501(c)(3) arm of the Duluth Area Chamber to open the door for state and federal grants, private tax-deductible contributions and other funding for which the Chamber of Commerce might otherwise have been ineligible. This structure allows the Foundation to direct those funds to where they can have the most impact for Chamber members and in support of our local business community. To learn more, please visit:

WBD, Inc.’s mission is to assist small businesses in gaining access to capital in order to grow their businesses, create jobs and build communities. WBD, Inc. helps businesses finance owner occupied commercial real estate utilizing the SBA 504 loan program. WBD partners with local lenders to help provide affordable, fixed-rate, long-term (up to 25 years) with less money down. Serving all of Wisconsin, Minnesota and a portion of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, WBD’s portfolio is over $1 Billion. As a nonprofit organization WBD reinvests in other economic development activities in line with its mission to grow businesses, create jobs and build communities through direct grants to nonprofit organizations. For more information on WBD’s lending and mission work visit