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Blackhawk Secures $438,578 in Grants to Support Area Business Training

June 22, 2018

In today’s global economy, businesses are constantly seeking opportunities to gain a competitive edge, something Blackhawk Technical College (BTC) knows all too well. With that challenge in mind, BTC is excited to report that $438,578 in Workforce Advancement Training (WAT) grants have been secured for 11 different area businesses. These grants will be used during the 2018-19 academic year for customized employee training designed to improve productivity and competitiveness, augment the state’s economic base, and expand technical college training services to business and industry.

“Training like this is crucial in the type of economy we are in,” said Colleen Koerth, BTC manager of Workforce Development. “These grants are incredibly important to help businesses educate, train and improve their workforce.”

Established in 2005, WAT grants are funded by the State of Wisconsin and administered by the Wisconsin Technical College System (WTCS). Each year, the WTCS awards WAT grants to the state’s 16 technical colleges in conjunction with Wisconsin businesses. WAT grants range from $2,500 and $200,000 per company for general businesses and from $2,500 to $50,000 for small businesses. Occupational skills are the main focus of the grants, but “soft skills” also may be included in the training. Grants are awarded to a technical college in conjunction with an individual business or a consortium of employers who require the same training.

"Current applicants do not have the skill sets we need to fill vacant positions and with the WAT grant we can bridge that gap with customized training in partnership with Blackhawk Technical College,” said Shannon Latham, manager of Human Resources and Safety, Stainless Tank and Equipment. “As STE continues to grow, grant opportunities and partnerships with Blackhawk Technical College and the Department of Workforce Development will be crucial to ensure we have the skilled workforce we require to be successful."

“BTC played a very important role in helping us identify our training needs and going through the process to secure this grant,” said Malik Surani, HR manager, Tigre-ADS USA. “This grant will help us with skills gap mitigation and provide the resources we need to create a learning path for new hires as well as career paths for current employees.”

Area businesses that will benefit from a WAT grant this year include: SSI Technologies, Inc., Beloit Health System, Blackhawk Transport, Cleaver-Brooks, Emmi Roth USA – Klondike Cheese Company, Pratt Industries Beloit Corrugating, LLC, Precision Drive, Scot Forge, Tigre-ADS USA, CCI, Stainless Tank and Equipment.

In the past five years, BTC’s workforce development team has helped more than 25 area businesses train over 10,000 area employees with WAT or Fast Forward grants. According to Koerth, the grants have had a positive impact on local communities, allowing businesses to retain and retrain experienced workers or expand their workforce.

Employers wishing to partner on a WAT or Fast Forward grant for the 2019-20 academic year should contact Colleen Koerth at ckoerth@blackhawk.edu, (608) 743-4597 or Matt Urban at murban@blackhawk.edu, (608) 329-8202.

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