By: Lake Area Technical Institute

Brookings Economic Development Corporation, Vision Brookings and Lake Area Technical Institute have hired Thomas Dunn of Brookings as their new business partner specialist.

Dunn is a 2005 graduate of Brookings High School. After graduation, Dunn moved to Texas, where he worked in sales for the King Ranch until he enlisted in the United States Air Force. He served as a non-commissioned officer and also worked for Homeland Security (TSA). 

In 2016, Dunn returned to South Dakota and attended Lake Area Technical Institute, where he graduated with his degree in building trades technology in May 2018. Dunn officially started in his new role full-time July 1.

In 2017-2018, BEDC, Vision Brookings and Lake Area Tech joined forces to develop a unique partnership between a community and a technical college.  As part of Lake Area Tech’s “Learn Where You Earn” initiative, the three entities have collaborated and expanded on Lake Area Tech’s presence in Brookings by hiring a full-time business partner specialist to help enhance the delivery of workforce education and training.

“A stronger presence in Brookings by Lake Area Tech will bring significant value to our efforts to solve workforce challenges,” BEDC Executive Director Al Heuton said. “Workforce development programming is a critical component of Brookings economic growth strategy.  We welcome Thomas Dunn to Brookings and look forward to working with him to advance workforce opportunities and solutions for the business community.” 

Like many communities in South Dakota and across the country, Brookings is facing shortages in the high-demand, technically skilled fields. Brookings employers have continued to express their desire for convenient access to expanded workforce education and training opportunities. 

“Our mission is to improve South Dakota’s technically skilled workforce pipeline,” Lake Area Tech President Mike Cartney said. “We recognize the needs of Brookings and its greater community and see this initiative as the way to assist in addressing those needs.”

Lake Area Tech continues to be a key player in delivering the type of additional technically skilled education and training Brookings needs for their community. Whether it is long or short-term training, high school dual credit or online education, the college provides expanded technical education opportunities within the community.    

Lake Area Tech’s Learn Where You Earn initiative is specifically focused on supporting both online and face-to-face distance access to higher education. Through this initiative, Brookings employers have the opportunity to train and upskill their current employees while they continue to work. 

Additionally, South Dakota State University and Lake Area Technical Institute are partnering to raise South Dakota’s college graduate numbers through their joint “Opening Doors” initiative. Both post-high institutions are working together to develop solid articulation agreements, dual degrees and stronger relationships between the staff and students at both institutions.

Dunn will be located at the Brookings High School Career and Technical Education Center and will focus on identifying industry partners, connecting with high school students, collaborating with community partners and assisting industry and students in finding creative ways to meet the workforce training demands in the Brookings area.

Courtesy photo

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