Cass County businesses awarded Going PRO Talent Fund grants

Published 11:13 am Friday, February 5, 2021

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CASS COUNTY —  Cass County businesses received more than $212,000 in grants from Michigan’s Going PRO Talent Fund.

Eight county businesses received funding from the program, including CHT USA, 805 Wolfe Ave., Cassopolis, and the Cass County Council on Aging.

According to a news release from the Greater Dowagiac Chamber of Commerce, more than $39 million in grants from the Going PRO Talent Fund will be helping nearly 30,000 workers across the state to secure employment, industry-recognized credentials and strong wages by providing training grants to more than 850 Michigan businesses to support their high-demand, high-skill talent needs.

Training programs funded by the Talent Fund must be short-term and fill a demonstrated talent need experienced by the employer. The training must lead to a credential for a skill that is transferable and recognized by industry. Businesses can be reimbursed up to $1,500 per person for classroom/customized training and on-the-job training and up to $3,000 per person for U.S. Department of Labor-registered apprenticeships.

CHT USA is no stranger to the program, according to HR Manager Laura Desilets. The chemical manufacturer applied for and received grant funding in 2020 and received more than $35,000 in grants this year.

“It is a wonderful thing the state offers,” Desilets said. “We are happy they offered it, and we will take full advantage of it.”

The company plans on using the funds to pay for training sessions including experiment and viscosity classes for its chemists, problem solving classes for its frontline workers, leadership school for new managerial staff and arc flash awareness training for its maintenance staff.

“The training really helps with retention and morale,” Desilets said. “It keeps the job interesting and you are always learning more things.”

Like CHT USA, the COA is working toward building up its own workforce. The organization is known for its community and senior-driven services such as Meals on Wheels, adult daycare, exercise classes, educational programming and more.

“This grant is helping us build up our current staff and our skill sets,” said COA HR Manager Danielle Dilts. “We used the application to basically look for training funds so our current staff can be trained for other positions because we had to cut back on staffing. We have an uptick in meal orders for our Meals on Wheels. We can take the necessary training certification for kitchen staff and get reimbursed for it.”

The grant was welcome news to the organization, which suspended the majority of its activities in light of the number of COVID-19 cases throughout the area. The COA hopes the new year will allow it to slowly open some of its activities.

“We are trying to stay up with guidelines,” Dilts said. “We’re more cautious than most due to the demographic of our clients. Since the fitness center is closed, we’re offering Zoom classes. Lots of people are joining and we have an amazing staff that has been so patient in teaching them how to use Zoom. I think it’s amazing.”

Businesses in Leader Publications’ coverage area that received grant funding include:

  • J.A.C. Custom Pouches, Dowagiac
  • Lyons Industries, Dowagiac
  • Midwest Energy & Communications, Cassopolis
  • Michigan Die Casting, Dowagiac
  • CHT USA, Cassopolis
  • Cass County Council on Aging, Cassopolis
  • C&S Machine Products, Niles
  • Indeck Niles Energy Center, Niles
  • Modineer, Niles
  • Niles Steel Tank Company, Niles
  • Pilkingtonn North America, Inc., Niles
  • YMCA of Greater Michiana, Niles