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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Friday, August 15, 2014
CONTACT: DWD Communications, 608-266-2722

DWD Assistant Deputy Secretary Anderson Highlights Governor Walker's Wisconsin Fast Forward Initiative during Visit to Antigo Manufacturer

Merit Gear among 15 manufacturers taking part in $192,000 training grant

ANTIGO – Citing Merit Gear in Antigo as a good example, Department of Workforce Development (DWD) Secretary Reggie Newson today described Governor Walker's visionary Wisconsin Fast Forward (WFF) worker training initiative as having a major impact, benefiting workers, their families and employers in communities across Wisconsin.

"Thanks to Governor Walker's efforts to improve Wisconsin's business climate, Wisconsin is adding jobs, and his Wisconsin Fast Forward initiative seeks to build on these successful efforts with worker training grants that fund customized, employer-driven training," Secretary Newson said. "The successful partnership between employers, technical colleges, and partners will pay dividends to ensure a skilled workforce now and in the future."

On Secretary Newson's behalf, DWD Assistant Deputy Secretary Dave Anderson visited Merit Gear, which is one of 15 manufacturers collaborating with the North Central Workforce Development Board on a WFF funded, customized worker training grant. Incumbent workers will learn new skills, such as advanced blueprint reading, as a result of the recently awarded $191,935 WFF grant. Two technical colleges, Northcentral Technical College in Wausau and Nicolet Technical College in Rhinelander, will provide the training.

Assistant Deputy Secretary Anderson met with executives and other members of the Merit Gear team, as well as Rene Daniels, Executive Director of the NCWDB and Larry Kind of Northcentral Technical College, who will be Merit Gear's partners in the customized training project.

"We are excited to partner with DWD and Merit Gear to develop and implement a customized training tailored to enhance the skills of the current workforce," announced North Central Wisconsin Workforce Development Board Executive Director, Rene Daniels.

While visiting Merit Gear, Assistant Deputy Secretary Anderson also urged other employers and potential partners in training projects to submit proposals for a recently announced third round of Wisconsin Fast Forward grants.

Based on a comprehensive analysis of pressing workforce needs, the DWD Office of Skills Development (OSD) set the following categories, each with separate 2014 application deadlines and a range of possible grant awards:

Early last year, Governor Walker proposed the WFF initiative, which lawmakers quickly approved with overwhelming bipartisan support. WFF encourages partnerships between employers and workforce and economic development organizations.

WFF targets funding to meet pressing needs for skilled workers and it includes accountability measures to ensure the state funds are well spent. The Office of Skills Development administers the program and monitors funded projects to ensure that unemployed trainees are hired and incumbent trainees receive a pay increase.

For additional third round details, visit: http://dwd.wisconsin.gov/wff/announcements.htm

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