The state of Minnesota has issued $2 million in grants aimed at helping 505 workers laid off from General Mills, Delta Air Lines, Best Buy, Medtronic and four other companies around the state, officials announced Wednesday.

The help will come in the form of services and retraining designed to get the men and women new skills, new jobs and, sometimes, new careers, state officials said.

The grant money is being funneled to seven of Minnesota's 46 workforce centers as well as contracted unemployment agencies such as HIRED, Employment Action Center and The Southwest Minnesota Private Industry Council. Some agencies are already providing services, officials said.

Worker retraining will take place at the centers and focus on upgrading computer, job hunting and interviewing skills as well as providing dislocated workers with job counselors who will work with them one on one.

Of the $2 million in grants, the state's Dislocated Worker Program issued a $400,000 grant to assist 100 former employees of General Mills. They are part of a pool of 400 workers let go during the summer, said HIRED senior program manager Matt Derosier.

The state also issued several $200,000 grants. They will help 50 laid-off workers from each of the following companies: Delta Air Lines; Medtronic; GCA Services in Minneapolis and Best Buy.

The 50 Best Buy workers are just a few of the 646 corporate and store employees let go this summer as part of the Richfield-based electronics retailer's bid to regain its competitive footing.

The remaining state grants will help 70 former employees from TSE Inc. ($280,000) in Arlington, 65 former workers from Cooperative Print Solutions and Curwood Inc. ($260,000) in Minneapolis and St. Louis Park and 70 Farley's & Sathers workers in Round Lake ($287,000).

Mark Jacobs, workforce development director of the Dakota-Scott Workforce Centers, said some laid-off Delta workers are already using the workforce centers to try to find their next jobs.

Jacobs, in charge of assisting affected Delta workers, said a handful have shown up at his center so far. More are expected in the coming weeks.

Identifying skills

Participants in the program will get computer training and learn how to identify skills they already possess that are transferable to other jobs and industries. Many of the affected Delta workers have worked at Delta or the former Northwest Airlines for "15 to 20 years and so they haven't had to look for a job in quite a while."

Such workers typically need to become experts in using social media and networking to find jobs. "The real concrete message I would give job hunters is that networking is vitally important to getting that next job," Jacobs said.

Dee DePass • 612-673-7725