To: Senate Appropriations – Talent and Economic Development Subcommittee
Senator Ken Horn, Chair
From: Kent Wood, Director of Government Relations
Date: April 16, 2019
RE: Going Pro Talent Fund – 2019-2020 Budget
On behalf of the Traverse City Area Chamber of Commerce, our 1,500 plus members, and our partners with the Northern Michigan Chamber Alliance, I am happy to share with you some experiences our employers have had with the Going Pro program and ask for your continued support of this critical talent development tool.
Northern Michigan is largely rural in nature with a number of small metropolitan areas throughout. Often it can be a struggle for our rural small businesses to work within the framework of statewide programs. Going Pro has NOT been one of those struggles.
Businesses in Region 2 alone were able to capture $1.4 million in STTF grants for FY18, which in turn leveraged over $14 million in private investment for the region. FY18 served 66 companies and trained over 1,500 incumbent workers, 159 new hires, and 47 apprentices.
Lear Corporation in Traverse City is a great example. Like many manufacturers in our region, Lear is facing significant talent shortages. Going Pro has allowed Lear to supplement their training budget and bring on additional registered apprentices, up-skill their existing workforce, and open up additional entry level positions.
The flexibility of Going Pro allows Lear to do this at a pace that keeps up with their demand for skilled talent. That is the critical component, it keeps pace with their demand.
Below are other major companies throughout the region who have used the fund to leverage their own investment for training. This is not an exhaustive list, and there are many more small companies who have used this program successfully as well.
- Verso Corp in Escanaba,
- Avon Automotive and Avon Protection in Cadillac,
- Besser Company in Alpena,
- EJ (formerly East Jordan Iron Works) in East Jordan,
- Cone Drive in Traverse City,
- Arauco in Grayling,
- OneUpWeb in Traverse City
A large reason Going Pro has been so successful is that employers simply state that “it works.” The program provides funding for training that is needed most, for employees that need it the most, all while moving at the speed of business. You don’t hear sentiments like this often from businesses regarding statewide programs.
We support adequately funding the Going Pro program in the FY 2019-2020 budget as it has been a major contributor to our training needs in northern Michigan. Even small, rural companies have been able to use the program with relative ease to assist their workforce skill needs. It allows them to compete around the globe while being based in northern Michigan.