Counties receive training grant

February 7th, 2017

By Emma Rausch | The Paper of Wabash County

Wabash County residents interested in earning certified machinist, welders or industrial maintenance certificates should contact the Economic Development Group (EDG) of Wabash County now, according to Lori Shipman, of Lori Shipman Consulting LLC.

Within the next year, Wabash County’s EDG in partnership with Kosciusko and Huntington counties’ economic development groups will receive a Community Development Block Grant through the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs (OCRA) to distribute to its area locals, Shipman, the grant’s administrator, told The Paper of Wabash County.

On Tuesday, Jan. 17, Shipman met with Wabash County Commissioners and Economic Development Group of Wabash County (EDG) to provide an update on the grant’s progress.

“It’s a workforce development grant,” she said. “The purpose for this grant is to help people who are pretty specifically, I’d say, under employed and unemployed, people who have a lot of those soft skills already where they show up to work every day, they’re on time, they have what it takes to be a good employee, they just are lacking a certification to get a high wage job.

“So this grant is going to focus on helping people to get certified to be machinists, get certification welding or in industrial maintenance because those are large need areas for companies within the three county areas that the program is going to take place.”

Since 2010, the local EDG has sought the state funding, but was initially declined, according to Barry Eppley, commissioner.

“Well we attempted and we were declined initially, so this is the second attempt to get this up and going,” Eppley said. “(OCRA) doesn’t accept every request (for these funds). It’s not that the request was invalid, but that there were many valid requests.”

The groups just had to keep trying until their application was accepted, he added.

In total, the grant amounts to $375,000, which will all go to serve Wabash, Huntington and Kosciusko County residents, according to Shipman.

“Across the three counties, $375,000 will be invested in workforce training,” she said. “$250,000 is coming from state CDBG funds.”

The remaining $125,000 “were other dollars that were brought to match the program … from between all the partners that came into the project,” she added.

The program will benefit 89 people with at least 45 of those being on low to moderate-income, Shipman continued.

While the communities will be receiving grant funds, the residents that apply will be entering a program to ensure they receive their certification.

WorkOne of Northeast Indiana, WorkOne North Central, Ivy Tech and Heartland Career Center partnered with the three counties and their respective economic development groups as the primary avenues for training and education.

There is still more work to do, but Shipman said she encourages any person interested in applying for part of the grant funds to start contacting the EDG.

“We aren’t to the point that we can spend the federal dollars yet because we’re in the contract process and when you get money from OCRA, it’s kind of a multi-stage process,” she said. “You get approved and then you have to meet a whole other level of review, which we’ve already met, so now we’re in the release of funds where to have to meet some more validations.”

However, once the program kicks off, the groups will have 18 months to spend the total funds.

“I would tell people to start calling now if they are interested,” Shipman said.

For more information on the grant and how to apply, contact the Economic Development Group of Wabash County at 260-563-5258 or WorkOne Northeast, located at 1143 Cass St. in Wabash, at 260-563-8421.