- Associated Press - Monday, October 12, 2015

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Aiming to improve job and business prospects for minorities in Minnesota amid reports of widening economic disparities, Gov. Mark Dayton has announced plans to create a special office for the task.

The Office of Career and Business Opportunity will help minority workers find job training, give woman and minority-owned businesses access to financing to start and expand and work with Minnesota companies to improve hiring practices. The office will be housed in the state’s Department of Employment and Economic Development and will have two full-time staff members.

Dayton’s new initiative comes after a troubling U.S. Census Bureau report showing median income for blacks fell by 14 percent from 2013 to 2014. More than a third of blacks in Minnesota - and 40 percent of black children - are living in poverty, compared to the state’s 11 percent average poverty rate.

The Democratic governor said this weekend that it was an important first step to tackle the economic gaps.

“We cannot afford to admire or ignore these problems any longer,” he said in a statement. “It is time now to take action to improve the lives and economic futures of all Minnesotans.”

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