Gov. Tony Evers visited UW-Eau Claire in December to announce the university and Mayo Clinic Health System in Northwest Wisconsin would receive a $9.4 million workforce innovation grant, and on Thursday local officials shed light on how they plan to use that money to add jobs and improve health in west-central Wisconsin.

Though the collaborative effort between UW-Eau Claire and Mayo Clinic Health System is in the early stages of the three-year grant proposal, plans call for the partnership to increase the number of local nursing and health care graduates and create a new category of workers called “health coaches” who would aim to improve the health of rural residents.

“We believe that we can improve our region by developing the talent and resources that can transform health care in rural parts of the country,” Chancellor James Schmidt said during a Wisconsin Technology Council panel discussion Thursday at the university. “I’m so excited about this grant for what it will be able to do for rural health and for this region and for every one of the organizations that’s involved in making it a reality.”

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