Department of Workforce Development
Secretary's Office

201 E. Washington Avenue
P.O. Box 7946
Madison, WI 53707-7946
Telephone: (608) 266-3131
Fax: (608) 266-1784

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Scott Walker, Governor
Reginald J. Newson, Secretary

Wednesday, August 27, 2014
CONTACT: DWD Communications, 608-266-2722
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On Twitter: @WIWorkforce

Secretary Newson Meets Workers, Employers Benefiting from Governor Walker's Wisconsin Fast Forward Customized Training Initiative

Senator Harsdorf joins Secretary Newson in tour of Vital Plastics in Baldwin, training center of collaborative project led by DWD regional partner to help workers at three manufacturers build skills

BALDWIN – In a visit today to Vital Plastics in Baldwin, Department of Workforce Development (DWD) Secretary Reggie Newson cited a collaborative worker training project as another good example of how Governor Walker's visionary Wisconsin Fast Forward initiative is helping build a skilled workforce to the benefit of working families, communities around the state and Wisconsin's expanding economy overall.

"Wisconsin Fast Forward is proving to be a strategic investment with big impact," Secretary Newson said. "Governor Walker's approach to delivering customized, employer-driven training has encouraged new partnerships, a collaborative spirit as we are seeing here at Vital Plastics. And it's building skills as planned, in this case helping workers and their employers advance, succeed as a team, and in doing so, keep our economy expanding and moving forward."

DWD's regional workforce partner, Workforce Resource, Inc., received a first round WFF grant of $170,264 for a plastic injection molding project. The collaborative effort is providing training to workers at Vital Plastics and two other manufacturers in St. Croix County, Nolato Contour, also in Baldwin, and iMARK Molding in Woodville.

"Vital Plastics is very grateful to be located in a state with a Governor and Legislature that understand the importance of helping businesses address their training needs," said Vital Plastics President Terry Townsend. "It speaks highly of the partnership between government and business."

Dick Best, Executive Director of Workforce Resource in Menomonie, said his organization welcomed the opportunity to partner with the three manufacturers in providing the customized, employer-driven training envisioned under Wisconsin Fast Forward.

Best said the WFF-funded project will not only upgrade their skills, but "create additional employment opportunities as this training enhances the competitiveness of those firms. We congratulate them in their efforts to keep the skills of their employees on the cutting edge. We are most appreciative of the legislature and governor for having created Fast Forward, making this advanced manufacturing training possible. Further, we applaud the Department of Workforce Development – Office of Skills Development for its efficient, effective administration of this innovative training initiative and look forward to assisting other area businesses in developing the talent of the region’s workforce."

Joining Secretary Newson for the tour were Senator Sheila Harsdorf of River Falls and Representative John Murtha of Baldwin. During the stop, Secretary Newson urged other employers and their potential training partners to develop proposals and submit a grant application for a third round of WFF funding to be awarded this fall.

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:

The Vital Plastics tour in Baldwin was one of three WFF events that Secretary Newson held in west central Wisconsin. He began the day in Hudson where he met with Hudson School District Superintendent Mary Bowen-Eggebraaten for a preview of WFF Blueprint for Prosperity-funded project. Senator Harsdorf and Representative Dean Knudson of Hudson also attended the briefing session.

DWD recently announced WFF Blueprint for Prosperity grants, including a $108,497 to the Hudson School District for its Accelerating Youth career Readiness project. The district will partner with Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College, three other school districts, CESA 11, and the West Central Wisconsin Workforce Development Board to train students for careers in health care, construction or hospitality-lodging-tourism fields. Successful trainees will further participate in the DWD Youth Apprenticeship program and gain valuable work experience at one of eight participating employers.

Secretary Newson also visited Global Finishing Solutions in Osseo. The manufacturer received a first-round WFF grant of $50,000 to train current workers and new hires in LEAN production methods. As with all worker training projects funded with WFF matching grants, successful trainees are to receive a pay increase if currently employed, or a job if they are unemployed.

Joining Secretary Newson for the Global Finishing Solutions visit was Representative Kathleen Bernier of Chippewa Falls. Representative Bernier was instrumental in the Legislature's approval of the Governor's initiative.

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:

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