Monday, June 13, 2005
Michael Shore, MEDC
Pilot Program to Train Workers, Create Private Investment
Governor Jennifer M. Granholm announced today the launch of a new Urban Training Program in Benton Harbor with the goal of creating private investment and good-paying jobs for unskilled workers in Benton Harbor. The Michigan Economic Development Corporation approved funding for Benton Charter Township to provide on-the-job training for new hires of ACE Companies LLC. ACE will invest $1.2 million to expand its operations and hire 26 new, unskilled residents of Benton Harbor.
"This collaboration with ACE enables us to provide training that will make a huge difference in the lives of these Benton Harbor workers," Granholm said. "This program will create opportunities for workers to learn skills needed to get good jobs and is also a catalyst for urban investment."
The township will use $260,000 in federal Community Development Block Grant funding to reimburse Ace Companies, a recycling firm, for the cost of up to six months of training for the 26 new workers. The program requires the company to hire unskilled residents of Benton Harbor and Benton Charter Township. The new program may be made available to qualified urban communities statewide in coming months.
In addition to the support Ace has received from the state of Michigan, it has also received local assistance from Cornerstone Alliance, the area's economic development organization. The Renaissance Development Fund, the financing affiliate of Cornerstone Alliance, is providing a $90,000 loan to Ace Metals for business operations. A portion of a USDA Rural Enterprise Grant will help fund the loan.
"We are truly proud to be one of the partners in this project," Cornerstone Alliance Chairman James E. Tomczyk said. "It is definitely a project made possible thanks to the resources and hard work of public and private sector partners. We welcome Ace Metals to the Michigan's Great Southwest community."
The MEDC is able to award approximately $50 million in federal CDBG funds each year. There are 1,655 local governments within the state eligible to apply for these funds. Projects are approved contingent upon compliance with state and federal requirements.
"Providing our workforce with the tools that they need to succeed is essential if we want to remain competitive on the global economic stage," MEDC President and CEO Don Jakeway said. "This training will provide Benton Harbor residents with the opportunity to improve their lives and their city."
The Benton Harbor workforce will also benefit from another training program recently launched by the Governor. The Skilled Trades Enhancement program will provide training in construction-related skills to prepare workers for apprenticeships and other entry-level positions. The Berrien-Cass-Van Buren Michigan Works! Agency will administer four six-week training sessions over the next year. For more information contact the agency at www.miworks.org.
The Michigan Economic Development Corporation, a partnership between the state and local communities, promotes smart economic growth by developing strategies and providing services to create and retain good jobs and a high quality of life.