Federal coronavirus aid sought for Cass County career academy

Backers seek $10 million made possible by CARES Act

Career Workforce Academy drawing proposal.jpg
A drawing of the proposed Career Workforce Academy southwest of Fargo. Special to The Forum

FARGO — A proposed career workforce academy in Cass County could be funded in part by federal dollars aimed at countering the crippling economic effects of the coronavirus outbreak.

During the Cass County Commission’s meeting Monday, May 18, Chairman Chad Peterson said it’s possible $10 million could come in the form of a grant drawn from a pool of federal funds largely made possible by the recent CARES Act.

The academy could have a $30 million price tag, he said, but what the cost ultimately turns out to be is not yet clear.

About $15 million has been collected or pledged from private sources, Peterson said.

Local governments and school districts might provide about $5 million toward the construction of a workforce academy, he added, noting that Cass County has so far committed about $900,000 toward such a project.


During Monday's meeting, commissioners heard from Amber Metz, executive director of Lake Agassiz Development Group, which recently became a community partner in the effort to advance a career academy in Cass County, the likely location of which is a site at 45th Street and 64th Avenue South, southwest of Fargo.

Metz said her development group is working on an application for federal funds and she said a successful request will require explaining clearly to the federal government how the proposed project would help the community respond to the coronavirus outbreak and its aftermath.

Peterson said LADG's involvement is valuable because it has an existing relationship with the agency that will be reviewing applications for grants.

"The better you know someone, the more apt they are to be receptive to your ideas," Peterson said.

Metz said the career academy project will be competing for about $70 million the U.S. Economic Development Administration will be divvying out for such projects in a 10-state region.

"We're still working through exactly what that application will look like," Metz said.

Peterson said the goal is to have funding in place this year for the career academy, with construction to start, optimistically, next spring.

He said construction would probably take about a year.


"So, (in) less than two years, we'd be open," Peterson said.

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