Friday, October 15, 2021

$2,249,780 to be invested in local businesses over the next year

February 17, 2021
Downtown East Lansing on Nov. 20, 2020.
Downtown East Lansing on Nov. 20, 2020. —
Photo by Annie Barker | The State News

Capital Area Michigan Works! (CAMW!) and the Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity will invest $2,249,780 in local businesses over the next year through the Going PRO Talent Fund. These funds will help 58 businesses pay for employee training, according to a CAMW! release. 

Small businesses have been impacted by COVID-19 around the country causing many to even close.

Teri Sand, business manager for CAMW!, helps businesses through the application process for the statewide funds. Sand said that this year every business CAMW! helped apply for the funds received them, which has never happened before. 

“Keeping people working and keeping the companies moving can only help the economy,” Sand said.

Sand said in the Lansing region, 1,763 individual workers will have received some form of training by the end of the year, including 65 first-year apprentices.

Businesses could apply in November 2020 through working with their local Michigan Works! Agencies, which for the Lansing area was CAMW!. Applications for fiscal year 2021 are closed, but the fund is usually approved in the Michigan government's budget every year since 2014 (although initially under a different name), with the exception of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sand said that local manufacturers often express the most interest in this program, but all businesses can apply. One of these non-manufacturing businesses that received money through the talent fund was the Lansing Art Gallery & Education Center, which showcases Michigan artists and offers educational programs. 

Executive Director Barb Whitney said the gallery's $3,774 grant will be used to send key staff to a leadership training.

"The funds dedicated include the enrollment for three of our key staff," Whitney said. "As well as we are providing a fair amount of in-kind for the project, dedicated so that staff can create the time and space to learn, engage and then create smart goals around their future work."

Whitney said she and Sand met to go over the application process and that Sand provided "guideposts" for the gallery as it was applying for the funds.

"We actually meet with her prior to making the grant application and have guidance on how to make an appropriate application, which was extremely beneficial," she said.

Whitney said that the gallery was able to increase its offerings during the pandemic, like an outdoor mural of George Floyd along the river trail. She said this training will help the gallery communicate with the community better and achieve its long-term goals.

“We can better enact our mission to provide public awareness, education and enjoyment of the visual arts by promoting the works of Michigan artists,” she said. “Essentially, we’ll be better at our jobs and better prepared to enact our mission, and ideally, driving positive change within our organization and beyond.”

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