BTC lands over $280,000 in grants supporting business training

Blackhawk Technical College has landed over $280,000 in grants to support specialized training for nine local businesses.

The money comes through the Wisconsin Technical College System. It’s part of a yearly cycle in which WTCS distributes Workforce Advancement Training grants to technical colleges for business training programs.

According to Gary Kohn, manager of marketing and communication for BTC, the whole process begins with conversations with employers in the area around Janesville. He says the college first identifies training opportunities for a local business, and if it matches the criteria of a certain WAT grant, BTC helps that company to pursue it.

Nine grants for nine businesses were awarded this time around, to be used in the 2017-18 academic year for highly customized training programs.

The nine companies to receive training through the WAT grants are:

*Humane Manufacturing, a manufacturer of molded rubber floor mats.

*Corporate Contractors Inc., a general contractor based in Rock County.

*Blackhawk Transport, a long-haul transportation company with warehousing options as well.

*Emmi Roth USA, Inc., a cheese retailer with operations in Monroe and Fitchburg.

*Stainless Tank and Equipment, a stainless steel tank manufacturer for various transportation purposes.

*Impact Confections, Inc., a candy maker that is the parent company of WARHEADS Sour Candies.

*SSI Technologies, Inc., a manufacturer of sensors, gauges and other technical systems components.

*Van Galder, a bussing company that services Madison and Janesville in Wisconsin and South Beloit, Rockford and several airports in Illinois.

*Orchid Monroe, a lamination component manufacturer.

“Those opportunities come up through our workforce division, networking with industries,” Kohn told “Tech colleges have deep relationships with area employers.”

He said they sit on the college’s advisory boards, and keep in close contact with many of the school’s faculty.

“On our end, it’s an opportunity to work with employers on training — when they come to want to train employees, sometimes they’re getting more skills, earning college credit,” Kohn said. “That could lead to a degree or a certificate.”

Sometimes, these partnerships between BTC and local businesses can come about through connections to the area’s economic development agency and chamber of commerce.

“Maybe it comes up when there’s a big business coming into town,” he added, referencing SHINE Industries, a pharmaceutical company that moved its corporate headquarters from Monona to Janesville.

“They’re a new company, putting a plant in Janesville, so they’re going to need training,” Kohn said. “We’re in the process of developing programs to support the future workforce.”

WAT grants go up to $50,000 for small businesses, and $200,000 for general businesses — which businesses fit into which categories is determined by the technical college system.

Training is performed in different locations for different businesses. For some, it’s applied at BTC’s campus; for others, it’s at their facilities. The college sometimes gets a third party involved with the training, if that’s what is needed to fulfill the particular needs of the company with which it’s working.

For some, Kohn says, that means performing the training in a medical clinic, and instructors working with whoever the medical facility or medical provider is.

Jean Randles, SSI Technologies corporate training and development manager, says the partnership has “upskilled” her employees, providing “positive results to our employees, customers, and our company as a whole.”

And in the past five years, over 25 companies have trained over 10,000 local employees with WAT or Fast Forward Grants.

“Thanks to the WAT grant, Blackhawk Transport has been able to provide six classes in leadership training to our management team.” said Anne Pesik, Blackhawk Transport director of safety and recruiting. “This will help our organization grow, learn, and function even more efficiently.”

–By Alex Moe