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Scott Walker, Governor
Reginald J. Newson, Secretary

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
Email: sec@dwd.wisconsin.gov

Friday, July 10, 2015
CONTACT: DWD Communications, 608-266-2722
On the Web: http://dwd.wisconsin.gov/dwd/news.htm
On Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/WIWorkforce
On Twitter: @WIWorkforce

A Better Bottom Line: Workers with Disabilities Pursue Culinary Careers through Governor's Wisconsin Fast Forward Training Initiative

DWD Secretary Newson meets current, former trainees in Grand Geneva pastry kitchen

LAKE GENEVA – Today, Department of Workforce Development (DWD) Secretary Reggie Newson met with workers and executives of Grand Geneva Resort & Spa, where job seekers with disabilities are completing culinary training through Governor Walker's Wisconsin Fast Forward (WFF) - Blueprint for Prosperity initiative.

"We're pleased that Grand Geneva is providing opportunities for workers with disabilities to achieve their employment goals, experience the power of a paycheck and move toward greater independence," Secretary Newson said. "Food preparation offers many challenging career paths that can quickly lead to advancement opportunities."

DWD awarded Grand Geneva a WFF-Blueprint for Prosperity grant of $38,508 in November to develop a two-month instructional course and train up to 24 individuals with disabilities for entry-level culinary positions. The course covers hospitality basics, food storeroom best practices, stewarding and culinary basics.

Secretary Newson toured the resort's pastry kitchen and met with trainees and a former trainee who is now a full-time employee at Grand Geneva. Joining Secretary Newson for the tour were state Sen. Steve Nass of Whitewater and Rep. Tyler August of Lake Geneva, who both supported WFF-Blueprint for Prosperity and whose districts include Lake Geneva.

"The tour of the Grand Geneva was enlightening and the program is very valuable to those who are able to utilize it," stated Sen. Steve Nass.

Rep. Tyler August said, "This is a prime example of how our local businesses can partner with the state to provide valuable job experience and training for those with disabilities."

Grand Geneva is an AAA Four Diamond resort located in Lake Geneva offering guest accommodations, a golf course, hotel and spa.

"We're thrilled to implement this culinary training program on property, further addressing the need to find meaningful work for people with disabilities," said General Manager Tom Mason. "The hands-on techniques that the associates will experience will be an everlasting window of opportunity for these individuals."

The Grand Geneva training initiative is among 11 projects that were awarded up to $622,340 last year to train as many as 210 workers with disabilities as part of the Blueprint for Prosperity expansion to Governor Walker's Wisconsin Fast Forward worker training grant program.

The Blueprint for Prosperity expansion targeted three areas, including grants to reduce wait lists at Wisconsin technical colleges, grants for collaborative school-to-work programs, and funds to enhance employment opportunities for workers with disabilities.

Governor Walker proclaimed 2014 as the Year of A Better Bottom Line to highlight successful operations that reflect contributions of people with disabilities, and to urge other employers to consider this skilled and capable workforce. DWD continues to honor this effort in 2015.

For more information:

Wisconsin Fast Forward–Blueprint for Prosperity: http://dwd.wisconsin.gov/wff/prosperity/

Division of Vocational Rehabilitation: https://dwd.wisconsin.gov/dvr/

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