Employers split $1.5M for ‘upskilling’


Skill-building programs, such as the Advanced Manufacturing Institute at Muskegon Community College, are designed to develop the region’s workforce. Photo via muskegoncc.edu

A group of area companies, big and small, is sharing more than $1.5 million to “upskill” their workforces and new hires.

The Skilled Trades Training Fund grants from the state, announced last month, allow employers to develop and implement training programs to enhance their businesses.

The grant funds that will be used to upgrade the skills of existing employees require a commitment by the company to hire additional employees to fill current or future positions.

The program was designed to ensure Michigan’s employers have access to the talent pipeline they need to compete and grow and participants have the skills they need for in-demand jobs.

“As the economy recovers, businesses are expanding, and they need skilled workers,” said Deb Lyzenga, business services manager for Michigan Works! Kent & Allegan Counties. “These funds helped many West Michigan businesses meet growing demand by upskilling their existing workforce. It’s good for business. It’s good for West Michigan.”

Jan Opalewski, HR manager at Kalamazoo-based Fabri-Kal, a packaging company that received $21,000, said employers in the state “are struggling to find qualified technical manufacturing employees who have the skill sets to carry us forward.”

“The grant has given us an opportunity to both develop our current staff and hire and grow new employees with the technical ability — but not the training they need to be successful in an advanced manufacturing environment," Opalewski added.

More than $8.2 million in STTF grants were awarded throughout the state. 

Michigan Works! Kent & Allegan Counties recipients

Employer STTF grant
Firstronic  $289,550
Pridgeon & Clay $153,000
Butterball $149,587
Gill Industries $79,500
Spectrum $67,609
Thierica $54,000
Michigan Fluid Power $49,110
Bucher Hydraulics $47,255
Spectrum Industries $45,000
Kellogg's $40,000
Paragon D&E $39,570
Agape Plastics $38,950
Pearson Foods $36,000
Custom Profile $32,847
Advanced Tooling $31,500
Genzink $25,965
Swoboda $23,000
Porter Hills $22,500
Behler Young $16,970
Hadley Products Corporation $16,500
Artiflex $11,500
Valley Truck Parts $10,500
CTH Industrial Service $9,000
RoMan Manufacturing $7,500
The DECC Company  $6,375
Enterprise Tool & Die $6,000
Digital Tool & Die $6,000
CS Manufacturing $6,000
Velocity USA $3,000
Commercial Tool & Die $3,000
General Die & Engineering  $3,000
Action Mold and Machining $3,000
JS Automation $1,500
Haerter Stamping $1,500
Total $1,336,288

Michigan Works! Kalamazoo & St. Joseph Counties recipients

Employer STTF grant
Fabri-Kal Corporation $21,000
Vaupell Midwest Molding & Tooling  $30,014
Peterson Spring Corporation $25,000
Pro Services  $142,000
Split among seven employers be: $17,350



Parker Hannifin – Hydraulics Division


Schupan & Sons


Stryker Instruments and Medical


Sturgis Molded Products


Weber Specialties Company

X-L Machine Company  
Total $235,364

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