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Michigan Talent Investment Agency. Curtesy| Facebook

Local com­panies will be able to con­tinue and advance training pro­grams thanks to a grant from the Michigan Talent Investment agency, totaling just over $200,000 in Hillsdale County.

Acme Mills LLC Fairway Products, $31,480; America Axle & Man­u­fac­turing, $18,690; Mar­t­inrea, $45,090; Paragon Metals Inc., $91,750; and Our Family Friend LLC, $16,130 were the five Hillsdale com­panies awarded this grant funding.

At the end of last year, Michigan Talent Investment agency granted more than $2.3 million to 67 com­panies within the Michigan’s southeast region. This funding was awarded by the Going PRO Talent fund and was invested in the com­panies’ training pro­grams.

Nicole Bell, com­mu­ni­ca­tions manager at Michigan Works! Southeast, said com­panies were rewarded dif­ferent amounts based on the training plans they sub­mitted in their appli­cation. The asso­ci­ation counted the number of employees and indi­viduals that need to be trained and developed a dollar amount from that sum.

“The goal is to hire and retain talent within our com­mu­nities,” Bell said. “The Going PRO program awards those com­panies to retain and maintain that talent.”

Katrina Mosaher, human resources and safety manager at Paragon Metals, said that Paragon Metals has already started some of their new training, as well as an in-house program. The in-house program is called Murata training and it focuses on using tech­no­log­i­cally-advanced tools, such as com­puter numerical control (CNC), robots, and mills, Mosher said.

“We can bring in people who have no CNC expe­rience, people that were under­em­ployed, or kids straight out of high school and get them trained in a skilled position,” Mosher said. “They’ll then have the skills to move onto a dif­ferent job in our company. They with CNC and promote from within.”

Chris Poling, training and safety coor­di­nator at Paragon Metals, spe­cializes in CNC training and helped develop a training cell for the company. He worked with Mosher and the state of Michigan to create this plan improving the company’s training.

“I took a look at Paragon’s idle equipment and iden­tified the skill gap,” Poling said. “Then, I figured out what machines would be needed to fulfill those skill gaps.”

Poling said the training cell helped pin­point the employees’ needs and pro­vided them the training needed at a faster rate.

“This creates a more knowl­edgeable work­force and increases the employees’ con­fi­dence in making the right decision,” Poling said.

At Our Family Friend, Lori Peterson, vice pres­ident of oper­a­tions, said they’ve already started their job training and will begin their in-classroom training this Feb­ruary.

“We’re con­stantly doing on the job training,” Peterson said. “Now that we’ve been awarded this grant, we can reduce some of the costs for training and implement new pro­grams in Feb­ruary.”

This grant helped expand the training for care­givers, as well as their man­agement team, Peterson said. Super­visory skill classes will be pro­vided for the man­agement team through Michigan’s Man­u­fac­turing Tech­nology Center program, while CENA training will be given to care­takers through Heart to Heart healthcare.

“We make sure every care­giver that works with one of our clients has had an extensive on the job training spe­cific to that client and that client’s needs,” Peterson said.

Dee Petry, owner of At Our Family Friend, said this funding will allow them to implement cus­tomized special training, such as training care­givers helping dementia patients. Two staff members are cur­rently under­going this training and Petry said this will help elevate their skills for the long-run.

“We look forward to con­tinuing more and more cer­ti­fi­ca­tions that help provide some of the leading infor­mation on working with people who have brain trauma,” Petry said. “There’s a lot of spe­cialized training that we can take part in with the offset costs covered by the grant.”

As searching for new employees becomes harder, acquiring skilled labor does so as well. With this fund, Mosher said the employees will be able to improve their job skills, Paragon Metals’ products, and their per­sonal lives as well.

“It ensures we have good quality product and sup­ports our com­munity,” Mosher said. “CNC posi­tions hold higher wages and this will allow our workers to spend more, like pur­chasing their own home.”

This Michigan program helps Michigan cit­izens sustain a skill set to having the best advantage in finding or keeping a job, Peterson said. With the dif­fi­culties of hiring, this program allows busi­nesses to grow from within and invest more in the company and workers them­selves.

“Ulti­mately the indi­vidual is the one invested in, and people are grateful for that,” Peterson said. “It’s a long view rather than a short view, and we grow our man­agers from our care­givers. The money coming from this grant allows us to make a greater investment.”

Appli­ca­tions for Going PRO Talent fund are open between Sep. 12 to Oct. 3, 2019, and awards are announced around late November to early December. Busi­nesses cannot directly apply for this and requires rec­om­men­da­tions from agencies in Michigan Works! The agencies’ business ser­vices’ staff eval­uates and deter­mines the busi­nesses’ talent skills gap, deciding whether or not busi­nesses are suitable to receive this federal funding.