Rural MN CEP Career Force’s CLIMB Program: Transforming Dislocated Workers into Entrepreneurs

Rural MN CEP Career Force’s CLIMB Program: Transforming Dislocated Workers into Entrepreneurs Main Photo

28 Jun 2023


As a participant of Rural MN CEP Career Force’s Converting Layoffs into MN Businesses (CLIMB) Program, Kimberly Gillette was able to transform a career crisis into the creation of her dreams. Designed to assist aspiring entrepreneurs in the state-funded Dislocated Worker (DW) program, the CLIMB Program supports business launches or growth. More specifically, through the use of the DW Program’s funding, the program provides small business consulting and training to interested program participants.

According to Gillette, she discovered the CLIMB Program at a pivotal time. “The pandemic, fiscal repercussions on higher education, and other world events have taken their toll on the educational landscape in the U.S. I was the benefactor of this trifecta. For the first time of my life and after a 25 plus year career in international education, I was let go. Prior to that point, I was certain I was going to work at a university in the field of international education until I retired.” However, through the CLIMB Program, she was able to shape her career to be more authentically aligned with her own personal values and ambitions. 

From Searching for a New Job, to Creating Her Own Job

When Gillette initially lost her job, it seemed like she had very few options. “My field was highly specialized and jobs at my level were few and far between. Despite the number of educational institutions in my area, there were no positions available to me. To stay in my career field, I needed to move across the country. I wasn’t willing to do this.” Providing alternative options in a job market that seemed limited, the CLIMB Program helped Gillette not only move forward, but embark upon an ideal path.

Gillette states that the transformative experience began with classes. “The Dislocated Workers’ Program provided me an opportunity to take a class and learn more about a new field, life coaching, and the CLIMB Program was instrumental in learning about setting up my own business. The support and learning opportunities from these two programs allowed me to dream of a new future. I was given the tools and support to start my own business.” Because of the CLIMB Program’s support and resources, Gillette was able to produce opportunities for herself, and now shares that wisdom with others. “The CLIMB Program allowed me to shift my focus from looking for a new job to creating my new job. I now provide career ownership coaching; I help others who are at a career crossroads dream of their future and empower them to pursue their dreams.”

Rural MN CEP Can Help you Start a New Business: Join the CLIMB Program

Experiencing a lay off can be a challenging test of strength, but the CLIMB Program helps generate opportunities and growth from this challenge. “Being let go is not easy. Applying for unemployment was one of the hardest things I've done. Knowing there is more than just unemployment assistance– like opportunities for learning new skills and opportunities for learning about business development– can be very empowering. I encourage anyone who is on unemployment assistance to consider the Dislocated Workers’ Program and CLIMB. Who knows? You may find that starting a new business is just what is needed!” 

The CLIMB Program assists many dislocated workers like Gillette. To learn more about the CLIMB Program, click here.