International Institute of Minnesota marks expansion, renovation of St. Paul facility – Twin Cities

The International Institute of Minnesota this week marked the expansion and renovation of their St. Paul building on Como Avenue.

The new space will allow the Institute to continue providing English classes, workforce development, educational training, and immigration, refugee and citizenship services on a larger scale, Executive Director Jane Graupman said.

Within nearly four years, the Institute has raised $9.5 million, $3 million short of its $12.5 million goal.

Top contributors to the project include Otto Bremer Trust, Fred C. and Katherine B. Andersen Foundation, Hardenbergh Foundation, HRK Foundation and Saint Paul Foundation.

The state contributed $3 million towards the campaign. Hamse Warfa, the deputy commissioner for the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, spoke at a groundbreaking on Thursday at the building on behalf of Gov. Tim Walz.

“As the head of the workforce development system in our state, we know the critical role that immigrants and refugees play in the workforce and the economic prosperity of our state,” Warfa said.

The Institute provides services to immigrants and refugees in Minnesota, Graupman said.

In 2019, the Institute served 4,000 new Americans. Graupman expects that number to grow by 15 percent in 2022. Their previous building, built in the 1950s, didn’t meet the growing needs of their clients or staff, Graupman said.

“The reason we started this project is because we had program directors in closets. We needed more classroom space because the number of people we serve was growing,” Graupman said.

The renovated plan adds 16,000 square feet in addition to the existing 18,000 of the original building, allowing for six new classrooms, additional meeting space and privacy for clients. The new building will allow the Institution to serve an additional 500 immigrants each year.

JDD Studio, a Minneapolis architecture firm, formerly James Dayton Design, designed the project.

Stahl Constructions was hired as the general contractor and began building in February 2020. The Institute did not celebrate the groundbreaking then due to COVID gathering concerns, Graupman said.

“We didn’t want to have a groundbreaking and not have the people here that helped us make this happen,” Graupman said.

Twin Cities