Businesses share $1.3M for worker training


Michigan Works! offices are transitioning to a more demand-driven system that takes into account information from businesses. Courtesy MiWorks

More than 30 area companies in the region have received state approval for grant funding to enhance the skills of their current and future workforces.

Michigan Works! Kent, Allegan and Barry Counties said this month that the Michigan Workforce Development Agency allocated approximately $1.3 million to 36 West Michigan businesses through the Skilled Trades Training Fund — which is a competitive award for employers to enhance the skills of and train their current workforce, improve productivity and meet the demands of a recovering economy.

Deb Lyzenga, business services manager at Michigan Works!, said that her agency facilitated more than 50 grant applications to the state this year, and the $10-million funding pool was depleted by the fourth week of October.

“It was a very competitive process," Lyzenga said. "I am pleased that we secured even more than what we received last year. Of course, I would have loved for all of our employers to have received funding. I am really pleased we were able to do as much as we did for our employers.”

Training programs

The $1.3 million in state funding will in large part support existing employee training and new hires, such as apprenticeship programs, injection-molding training, computer-aided design classes and workforce development and management training.

More than 300 new employees are anticipated to be hired and trained, while roughly 994 existing employees will receive additional training as a result of the STTF grant funding.

With a number of employers balancing investment in equipment improvement or maintenance with employee training, Lyzenga said the state funding is helpful for employers.

“It generates more funds for the employers, so I can only see it as an avenue for employers who grow their businesses,” Lyzenga said. “What I heard from a lot of employers is they have had to do a lot of capital investment and that leaves very little — especially coming out of the economy where they couldn’t do improvements — for training employees. I am loving the program. I think it is great for employers.”

Workforce partners

Michigan Works!, economic developers and educational institutions collaboratively secured roughly $1.2 million in funding in 2013 over a three-month period. Several of the partnership organizations included the Construction Workforce Development Alliance, West Michigan Tech Talent and Discover Manufacturing. During 2014, employers had roughly three weeks to submit a grant application and were receiving approval within two or three days, according to Lyzenga.

“We are a region that works together, and we have really developed over the last couple of years," Lyzenga said. "We have just stepped up in our partner relationship. I think that is why we are seeing such success in West Michigan.”

State Skilled Trades Training Fund grants in West Michigan

Agape Plastics received $37,460 in funding to hire and train 12 new employees and train 13 existing employees in tool making and material handling to address the current skills gap at the company.

Alto Precision will use the $21,000 to train six existing programmers on a new CNC lathe machine and hire four new employees.

Artiflex was allocated $12,000 for an apprenticeship program to develop die-making skills and plans on hiring four new employees to receive certification in the trade.

Butterfall Farms is planning to use more than $54,400 in funding to hire 18 individuals and train an additional 33 existing employees in a number of areas, such as strategic sales, IFMA, OSHA, category management, preventive maintenance and advanced Outlook.

Cascade Engineering secured $20,300 in funding to provide robotics and PLC training to 29 existing employees to keep up with the changing needs of the company and customer demands.

CTC Acquisition Company will use $15,000 to hire one new employee and train nine incumbent workers to operate two new and two upgraded injection molding machines.

Custom Profile received $33,500 to hire 17 new employees and train an additional 11 existing employees in CAD, maintenance, Wire EDM/CNC and computer skills.

Die Cad Group plans on investing the $25,495 in training four new employees and 16 existing workers in advanced manufacturing processes, including metal stamping simulation and die design, through state-of-the-art software.

Eclipse Tool and Die has re-launched an apprentice program to support the tool and die trade and secured more than $10,400 in state funding to hire two new workers and train three existing employees.

Fastco will use the roughly $4,700 grant to train five existing and two newly hired employees in cold heading application skills.

Fields Fire Protection received more than $55,500 to provide FPS, distributor, NAFED, NICET and BFAAM training to six new workers and 26 current employees.

Genzink Steel plans on hiring 16 new employees and training 46 existing workers in blueprint reading, GibbsCam, and coating application, while three machinists will learn how to operate newly invested machinery.

Gluten Free Bar secured $16,800 to hire two new workers and train an additional 10 employees to be certified in SQF/GFSI skills.

Grand Rapids Plastics received more than $43,600 to hire five new employees and train 41 current workers in robotics, maintenance technology, blueprint reading and quality improvement.

Hadley plans on providing Rockwell Automation Controls and workforce management and development training to employees with roughly $9,900 secured in funding and will hire six new employees and train two current workers.

Hearthside Foods will use roughly $129,800 to train each technician in new technology and equipment, and plans on hiring three machine operators in the fourth quarter of 2014, additional apprentices, and training 78 existing employees.

Jackson’s Industries received $3,460 to train four current employees to be Navy certified welders and will use the funding to develop an in-house quality control system.

Jireh Metals will use the $13,000 in funding to train 16 current workers and hire two new employees, which includes a tool and die maker apprentice.

Karona Door plans on using more than $110,100 to provide lean fundamental training to 90 current employees and an additional eight new workers, resulting in two certifications for each employee.

Krieger Craftsmen secured roughly $12,500 in funding to train 22 employees on new CNC machines.

Lacks Enterprises will use more than $22,700 to hire 15 new workers and train an additional 17 current employees in statistical process control.

Marshall Plastics is using $12,150 to continue training 16 employees in lean business practices, which began in 2014.

MFP received more than $58,000 to train 50 existing employees and hire two new workers to learn skills in project management, leadership and other areas as the company integrates a new system.

Mico Industries will use more than $10,000 to develop “Mico University” to educate five new employees in die setting, inspection and measuring. An additional seven employees are anticipated to be trained as well.

Micron Mfg. received more than $19,900 to train 19 current employees and hire four new workers. Employees will learn how to implement lean techniques and operate new equipment.

Middleville Tool & Die secured roughly $19,000 to hire one new worker and train 29 current employees in areas that include 8D solutions, lean principles, Geometric Dimension and Tolerancing, and maintenance and welding.

PDS Plastics will use more than $22,400 to train employees on new injection molding machines, Adobe Illustrator software, quality core tools, internal auditing and lean principles. The company anticipates hiring three new employees and training an additional 10 existing workers.

Plasan Carbon Composites secured more than $238,000 to develop a stable workforce, train 80 existing workers, and hire an additional 127 employees.

Price Koch received roughly $54,500 to hire six new employees and train 43 current workers to continue implementing lean principles and new leadership techniques.

Rapid-Line will use approximately $9,000 to train seven employees in Motomon Robotics, to provide an opportunity to hire new employees in the future.

Riviera Tool plans on leveraging a DOL apprenticeship, classroom training, and experienced workers’ skills to build a skilled workforce with $24,000 in funding. The company expects to train eight current workers.

Service Express received $7,500 to fund in-house training reimbursement and anticipates hiring one new employee and training four existing workers.

Stampede Tool and Die secured more than $30,000 to hire five new employees and train 16 current workers in areas that include CNC operations, machining, CAD, and die and mold making. The company also plans on implementing an apprentice program.

TMD will use $21,000 in funding to train nine current workers and hire five new employees to learn operational skills on new programming and measurement gauging technology, and a solar vacuum furnace.

Viking received $72,000 to train 48 current employees in PLC, robotics, tailored software and project management.

Windemuller Electric Company will use more than $45,900 to hire three new employees and train 171 existing workers in OSHA 10- and 30-hour programs, as well as NFPA 70E training.

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