August 20, 2019

West Branch receives more than $20,000 from Going Pro Talent Fund

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WEST BRANCH — The city of West Branch has received approximately $20,000 from the Michigan Going Pro Talent Fund in order to help pay for specialized training for its employees.

The talent fund is a system utilized by Michigan Works that allows it to allocate funds to different businesses and local entities in order to entice them to provide more in-depth training for their employees. Michigan Works Communications Manager Alicia Wallace said this program is not just a boon for Michigan employers.

“To remain competitive, we have a lot of workers who are looking to improve their employability,” she said. “It helps them to become more marketable whether they decide to stay on with that company, or move on.”

City Manager Heather Grace said this funding boost will definitely be useful.

“It’s wonderful we’re getting the grant funding for this,” she said. “Because there is always more training that could be done.”

West Branch received one of the largest disbursements from the fund in Northern Michigan. Grace said this funding will make the additional training the city is providing much more affordable for it. She said one reason she believes the city received the funding is due to its Rising Tide status.

As of Dec. 4 the city had been approved for nearly all of the trainings it applied for. The city applied for training that would enable employees of the wastewater treatment facility to apply for higher certifications than they already possess. There were also applications for backhoe training, Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement Program certification, active shooter instructor training, grant writing training and more.

Wallace said there was roughly $20 million available for training through the program this year. She said generally that amount is not completely depleted, and funds go unused by the end of the year.

“The money is there, and it’s on the table,” Wallace said. “We can’t force these companies to apply, but the funding can be very beneficial.”

Wallace said if the funding is not completely utilized, it does have to be returned at the end of the year. However, she said in some cases, if there are companies on the waiting list for funding, the leftover money can be given to them.

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