New Cedar-Riverside initiative seeks to boost employment rates

A new public-benefit corporation hopes to reduce Cedar-Riverside’s 18 percent unemployment rate.

Founder of Pioneer Staffing and Training Mohamud Noor poses for a portrait in Cedar Riverside on Monday, Sept. 11. 

Easton Green

Founder of Pioneer Staffing and Training Mohamud Noor poses for a portrait in Cedar Riverside on Monday, Sept. 11. 

Kelly Busche

A new Cedar-Riverside employment organization seeks to slash unemployment rates in the community.

Pioneer Staffing and Training, which will launch next week, will be the first employment center in Minneapolis that is a public benefit corporation — a for-profit business also focused on societal impact.

Around 18 percent of Cedar-Riverside residents are unemployed, while the statewide unemployment rate sits close to 4 percent.

Mohamud Noor, the company’s founder, said he chose the public benefit corporation model to assist the community. The organization aims to cut Cedar-Riverside unemployment rates by bridging cultural and language barriers that often exist between employers and applicants. 

“We can serve a huge number of community members who are seeking employment,” Noor said.

Noor created Pioneer Staffing and Training because he sees a “huge gap in skills and … cultural awareness.”

For a fee, job-seekers will submit a set of application documents. The corporation will choose where each applicant works based on their strengths, weaknesses, schedules and more, he said.

Employers frequently have concerns when hiring someone with minimal skills, Noor said. “They don’t want to take that chance.” 

Pioneer Staffing and Training will address the concerns by providing job training and workplace skills education, Noor said. 

The training will eventually help people find permanent jobs, he said, rather than temporary positions other employment agencies offer.

“We give people opportunity,” Noor said. “We want to give them hope.”

He said the company will only work with employers who pay livable wages: “we’ll be raising the bar.”

City of Minneapolis Workforce Manager Mark Brinda said the high unemployment rate has been tough to combat.

“It’s one of the big challenges we have,” Brinda said.

Residents across Minneapolis are demanding better employment prospects, he said, making organizations like Pioneer Staffing and Training and the Cedar Riverside Opportunity Center important to the community. 

The Cedar Riverside Opportunity Center matches job seekers with employers, said Mohamed Ali, associate director of employment at EMERGE Community Development — which partners closely with the center.

Ali said the center holds consultations with job-seekers to help them “apply their skills to the right job,” along with holding mock interviews to prepare applicants.

Employers are on-site doing the hiring, he said, rather than the center hiring employees.

And the center stays connected to employees after they are hired. “We don’t leave them out there,” Ali said.

Diverging from the norm, Pioneer Staffing and Training does recruit prospective employees, Noor said. 

“It puts more pressure on us to find qualified individuals,” he said. “But it also gives us a pool of potential employees for that employer.”