Employees at two Dakota County businesses will be among those at 34 companies to receive job training with more than $3.3 million in grants from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.

The grants recently were awarded under the agency's Minnesota Job Skills Partnership Program, which works strategically with both businesses and educational institutions to train or retrain workers, expand work opportunities and keep high-quality jobs in the state.

The program has funded training for more than 260,000 employees to date. The latest round of grants will serve nearly 4,500 workers throughout the state. The training will be provided by Minnesota State Colleges and Universities and the College of St. Scholastica.

Saint Paul College will use a $49,958 grant to train 62 employees of Gopher Resource Corp. in Eagan. The company does advanced recycling of lead-acid batteries, lead-bearing wastes and related products.

Dakota County Technical College will use a $173,976 grant to train 118 current and 10 new employees at the Burnsville and Kenyon operations of Foldcraft Inc. The company makes furniture and millwork for hotels, restaurants and other businesses.

Home construction

Some Dakota County communities are echoing an overall jump in homebuilding over last year while others are not.

The overall metro area had 4,579 units permitted through the end of June, up from 4,189 for the same period in 2013, according to the latest Keystone Report for the Builders Association of the Twin Cities.

Locally, Eagan had 243, up from 93. while Lakeville had 160 for the six-month period, a decline from 180 for the same period a year ago.

Apple Valley had 28 units for the six-month period this year, compared with 29 a year ago; Burnsville had none, vs. six in 2013.

New head of Northfield Chamber

The Northfield Area Chamber of Commerce has hired Brent Burns as its new executive director. He begins his new job this month.

Burns most recently served in a leadership role with the Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce in Spencer, Iowa. He also has been the managing partner of Sylvan Learning Centers in northwest Iowa, a branch manager in the mortgage industry and sales manager for a Chevrolet, Nissan and Mercedes-Benz dealer.

In addition to Burns, the chamber also has hired Lisa Havelka as the Northfield Convention & Visitors Bureau tourism manager. Havelka joins the bureau after a five-year stint with the Owatonna Area Chamber of Commerce & Tourism.

The appointments of Burns and Havelka come amid ongoing merger discussions between the chamber and the Northfield Downtown Development Corp.

Send your Dakota County business news to susan.feyder@startribune.com.