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.