Posted in News on December 21, 2017

12/20/2017 - Zeeland, Michigan – Fifty-seven West Michigan lakeshore companies are receiving a collective $2.4 million in Skilled Trades Training Fund (STTF) grants to train new and current employees, and for apprenticeship training in 2018. The awards were given through the State of Michigan’s Talent Investment Agency. This is a near doubling of awards from last year, when 34 companies were awarded $1.37 million to upskill employees.  
“Area employers tell us their number one issue is finding talent, particularly skilled workers. Securing these training funds to upskill employees helps reduce this barrier significantly and creates additional opportunities for West Michigan’s talent pool.,” said Jennifer Owens, Lakeshore Advantage president. “It is our privilege to come alongside employers with West Michigan Works’ strong leadership and expertise to assist with these fund applications that yielded about double last year’s award.”
Zeeland Lumber and Supply received one of the largest awards in the West Michigan Lakeshore region at $149,927. Zeeland Lumber and Supply’s training grant will assist with a few key positions in the industry as the company creates apprenticeship programs for Structural Builders Walls, Structural Builders Truss and Structural Designers. The company’s skilled trades training fund grant additionally allows for continued development for information technology and project management professionals. With the assistance of the grant, 80 total employees will be increasing their skill levels. This includes 48 current employees and 32 new employees the company plans to hire.

“These apprenticeship programs will allow us to train our current employees and hire new employees who are interested in pursuing careers in the building trades,” said Mike Dykstra, president and CEO of Zeeland Lumber and Supply. “We are very excited to be awarded the STTF grant. It aligns with our value of career-long learning.”
Employers apply for the training grants through West Michigan Works! When the application process opens in the fall. Lakeshore Advantage works with employers throughout the year, connecting them with this training resource, then in the fall assisting with training on the application process and answering questions on applying for the training grants.
To be considered for an STTF training grant, employers indicate their matching training investment in the application. Typically, to be awarded, the State of Michigan likes to see a 2:1 matching ratio from the company. 
“West Michigan employers are invested in their workforce; the record amount of funds awarded to the region is a testament to their commitment to providing opportunities for their employees to grow and succeed.” Jacob Maas
A full list of West Michigan Lakeshore area (Ottawa and Northern Allegan Counties) awardees is here.