State budget restores workforce funding support

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Gov. Gretchen Whitmer Courtesy state of Michigan

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed into law a 2021 state budget this week that restores much-needed training dollars for companies in need of skilled workers.

Whitmer signed her second budget into law Wednesday and it took effect Thursday, funding several stated priorities, including the Michigan Reconnect program for a tuition-free pathway for adults, funding for the Healthy Moms, Healthy Babies program to ensure women have the care they need for a healthy pregnancy, and expanding access to child care for families.

The budget also includes funding for programs within the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity and the Michigan Economic Development Corporation, including $100 million for business attraction efforts.

A total of $28.7 million is allocated for the Going PRO Talent Fund (GPTF) program to support job training grants to businesses for upskilling new and current employees in high-demand, skilled trades industries.

In addition, new funding of $3 million is provided for a statewide pre-apprenticeship program to develop qualified candidates for building trades apprenticeships in the construction industry.

Funding for the popular Pure Michigan tourism marketing campaign is set at $15 million.

The restoration of Going PRO funding comes after a line-item veto cut a proposed $37 million for the program in 2020.

Jacob Maas Courtesy West Michigan Works!

Jacob Maas, CEO of West Michigan Works!, said his agency is grateful to Whitmer and state lawmakers for restoring the funding for the fiscal year ahead.

“We are thankful for the strong partnerships with our economic development agencies, chambers of commerce and our community colleges who have continued to help educate key stakeholders on the importance of the GPTF,” Maas said. “We are grateful for the leadership of our legislators, as this funding will be even more important as we begin to pull out of the economic downturn caused by the pandemic.”

Since 2014, Going PRO has provided nearly $100 million to more than 3,000 businesses across the state, resulting in the retention of 72,542 jobs and an average annual earnings increase of $3,370 per individual, West Michigan Works! said, noting West Michigan has consistently received over 25% of the funding for participating employers.

The total statewide award in FY 2018 was $30.3 million with $8.4 million of that going to West Michigan entities, while in FY 2019, the total award increased to $32 million with $10.2 million spent on West Michigan.

“Employers and employees across Michigan have greatly benefited from this fund, and we are thrilled that this program can continue to allow our citizens and businesses to prosper,” said Alexa Kramer, director of government affairs for the Grand Rapids Chamber of Commerce. “The chamber looks forward to working with stakeholders to ensure West Michigan businesses make the most of this opportunity.”

The West Michigan Works! business solutions team will help assist employers with the Going PRO application process.

“We will offer information sessions and application workshops in late October and throughout November, in addition to one-on-one meetings,” said Amy Lebednick, director of business solutions for the agency. “We encourage our employers to reach out to us now to allow enough time to prepare a robust application.”

More details on allocations in the 2021 state budget are available at michigan.gov/whitmer.

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