State legislature restores $15M in Going PRO funding

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The House of Representatives chamber at the Michigan Capitol in Lansing. Photo via wikimedia.org

The Michigan Legislature has approved a bill that will allow the Going PRO Talent Fund to award grants in 2020, albeit on a smaller scale.

The Michigan House of Representatives on Tuesday afternoon approved a package of bills from the state Senate that will restore partial funds for some of the programs that were cut during the 2019 budget tussle between the legislature and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.

This includes Senate Bill 151, which restores $15 million to the fiscal year 2020 state budget to fund the Going PRO program.

Luann Dunsford, CEO of the Michigan Works! Association, said the move will allow the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Development (LEO) to continue supporting “critical training” programs for Michigan businesses’ current employees and new hires amid the current talent crunch.

“While we are grateful for the $15 million this year, it is a much lower level than the program has been funded at in the past,” she said. “It is imperative that the FY 2021 budget appropriation is at an amount that matches the increasing demand for this program.”

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer asked for $27.9 million for the Going PRO Talent Fund in her FY 2021 executive budget recommendation presented Feb. 7.

According to previous Business Journal reports and the LEO website, the Going PRO Talent Fund, which began in 2014 as the Skilled Trades Training Fund until it was rebranded in 2018, “makes awards to employers to assist in training, developing and retaining current and newly hired employees.”

Since Going PRO’s inception, nearly $100 million has been awarded to more than 3,000 businesses across the state, resulting in the retention of 72,542 jobs, according to Michigan Works!.

In FY 2019, 223 West Michigan employers were able to train 2,423 existing workers and 4,447 new hires with Going PRO awards totaling $9.5 million, which was almost one-third of the $29 million allocated statewide under the program.

LEO already selected the companies that will receive funding out of the 1,100 applicants that met the Oct. 1 deadline for the FY 2020 awards.

So far, it is unclear what percentage of the $15 million Going PRO funds in the FY 2020 budget will go to West Michigan employers.

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