Economic Development, Higher Education, and Human Resources

Colleges win $13.95M in grants for skilled trades training

March 6, 2015
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Colleges win $13.95M in grants for skilled trades training
A GRCC student works with equipment at the machine lab. Courtesy GRCC

Community colleges across the region have won a total of $13.95 million in grants from the state — to help close the talent gap for highly technical and in-demand jobs.

The grants announced by the state last month are from the state’s marketing arm, the Michigan Economic Development Corp., or MEDC, and part of a $50-million grant program supporting 18 community colleges across the state under the Community College Skilled Trades Equipment Program to fill in-demand jobs.

A number of West Michigan-based community colleges won the grants: Grand Rapids Community College, $2.9 million; Kalamazoo Valley Community College, $3.57 million; Kellogg Community College, $2.1 million; Montcalm Community College, $1.28 million; and Muskegon Community College, $4.1 million.

The funding program also requires the community colleges to collectively provide more than $21.5 million in matching funds to support the purchase of new equipment and expand their programming.

Governor Rick Snyder said the funding will allow students at the community colleges to gain in-demand skills through state-of-the-art equipment and training.

“We are positioning Michigan to become the national leader in developing talent,” Snyder said. “This serious investment — one of the largest of its kind in the country — will tap our top-notch community colleges and help new students and adults looking for new opportunities gain the skills sought by companies looking to grow and expand, creating more and better jobs in Michigan.”

GRCC expands skilled trades training

Grand Rapids Community College said last week that its $2.9-million MEDC grant will be allocated toward a $3.9-million project to purchase new equipment and expand the college’s manufacturing and technology-focused programs.

The skilled trades project will expand a various programs at GRCC: welding; tooling and manufacturing; heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration technology; automotive technology; and craft brew management.

The college highlighted its plans to purchase a range of new equipment and grow related skill trades programs: a craft beer instructional lab for the Secchia Institute for Culinary Education; an electric demonstration vehicle for the automotive technology program, the addition of the Light Duty Hybrid/Electric Specialist certification; a new machine tool lab at the Tassell M-TEC facility, development of a Machine Tool Boot Camp; “virtual welders,” an accelerated welding training program and provide American Welding Society credentials; new variable refrigerant flow and supermarket refrigeration training in the HVAC program through new equipment; and new equipment at the Lakeshore Thompson M-TEC location.

“The state’s generous support will help us prepare more students to enter the workforce and make a positive difference for employers seeking talent,” said Steven Ender, president, GRCC. “The funding will help us make sure that our students have hands-on experience on the most advanced technological equipment and tools available.”

The GRCC project includes $983,000 in matching funds provided by GRCC.

About $700,000 of GRCC’s financial allocation was provided by two donors who are interested in supporting culinary and manufacturing education.

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