By Jim Harger [email protected] December 27, 2017

ZEELAND, MI – Lakeshore Advantage said 57 of its member companies will draw $2.45 million in 2018 from a $30 million state fund created to train new and current employees.

The funding from the Skilled Trades Training Fund (STTF) grants is near twice the $1.37 million received by 34 Lakeshore Advantage members this year, the economic development agency said in an announcement on Wednesday, Dec. 27.

“Area employers tell us their number one issue is finding talent, particularly skilled workers,” said Jennifer Owens, Lakeshore Advantage president.

“Securing these training funds to upskill employees helps reduce this barrier significantly and creates additional opportunities for West Michigan’s talent pool,” Owens said.

“It is our privilege to come alongside employers with West Michigan Works’ strong leadership and expertise to assist with these fund applications that yielded about double last year’s award.”

Ottawa County has had among the state’s lowest unemployment rates this year. In October, the county’s unemployment stood at 3.2 percent, the second lowest in the state after Livingston County.

The largest STTF grant will go to Herman Miller, which will use a $229,455 grant to train workers at its facilities in Zeeland and Spring Lake.

Zeeland Lumber and Supply will receive $149,927 to help create apprenticeship programs for structural builders for its wall and truss products and structural designers.

With the assistance of the grant, 48 current employees and 32 new employees at Zeeland Lumber and Supply employees will be increasing their skill levels, the announcement said.

“These apprenticeship programs will allow us to train our current employees and hire new employees who are interested in pursuing careers in the building trades,” said Mike Dykstra, president and CEO of Zeeland Lumber and Supply.

“We are very excited to be awarded the STTF grant. It aligns with our value of career-long learning,” Dykstra said.

Other large recipients of the state training awards include:

* Magna Engineered Glass of Holland Township, $141,238

* Meridian of Spring Lake, $139,684

* ESPEC North America of Jamestown Township, $139,587

* SoundOff Signal of Jamestown Township, $105,975

* Fogg Filler of Holland Township, $105,467.

Click here for a full list of recipients

“Our business community is in desperate need of skilled talent,” said Nancy Manglos, director of Talent and Leadership Development with the Chamber of Commerce for Grand Haven, Spring Lake and Ferrysburg.

Statewide, the STTF grants program has the goal of training 10,000 current employees and 3,300 new employees in 2018, according to the Michigan Talent Investment Agency.

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