Michiganders, like many others, have suffered tremendous financial hardship over the past year. As the pandemic swept through the country, unemployment rates skyrocketed and some businesses were forced to close their doors for good.
As the state works to get its economy back up and running, the Michigan Economic Development Corporation is launching two new initiatives to help Michigan’s working class stay competitive and to give college graduates the chance at the career of their dreams.
The Regional Talent Innovation Grant is a $7.5 million fund that will extend to workers across the state to assist in the need for regional talent, developing existing workforces statewide and introduce new training opportunities for various high-demand skill sets to address the individual needs of each region. The initiative will provide training opportunities to roughly 750 people across Michigan. The funds are being provided by the Community Development Block Grant CARES Act, or CDBG.
“The Talent Expansion Initiative is an opportunity for us to make sure that Michigan continues to have the strongest workforce that we can possibly have,” says Josh Hundt, executive vice president and chief business development officer for the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.
While the grant will extend to all demographics, individuals from low to moderate-income backgrounds will have priority in the selection process with an emphasis on those who reside in disadvantaged areas of the state. The Regional Talent Innovation Grant is partnering with several organizations to provide programs with grants of $500,000 to $950,000.
“What we saw is that there are significant challenges that we need to overcome in our talent ecosystem. While we have a talented workforce here in Michigan right now, there is a challenge of a shrinking talent pool and a supply and demand mismatch. This is something that is needed to help ensure that we have a full suite of services to ensure our talented workforce has the opportunity to be trained and prepared for the jobs of the future,” says Hundt.
To be considered for the grant, applicants must meet a set of criteria including fitting with the MEDC’s Strategic Plan and the vision, strategy and priority for community and align with Governor Gretchen Whitmer’s Sixty by 30 goal.
The second program will be aimed at students and providing paid internships in science, technology, engineering and math allowing for the potential to grow into a long-term relationship and career opportunities. The Michigan STEM Forward program will help retain some of Michigan’s newest talent and support the economy in their own backyards.
“We have many great students coming out of our universities and we want to make sure that we continue to lead in that space and have Michigan be successful because of our talented individuals that live here in this state,” says Hundt.
The program, while an extension of the already-established Ann Arbor SPARK initiative, will work to place students with corporations across Michigan. The $1.5 million-dollar campaign will help to place up to 450 students who desire to work in the STEM fields. Each internship opportunity will last from 10 to 12 weeks with the hopes of turning into a permanent position post-graduation.
“We have partnered with Ann Arbor SPARK who created a model for this program that they are doing in Washtenaw county and [bring] that program statewide. They will be managing that on behalf of the Michigan Economic Development Corporation,” says Hundt.
For eligibility under the Michigan STEM Forward program, students must attend an institution of higher learning in Michigan pursuing a career in any of the STEM majors. Amongst other responsibilities, Ann Arbor SPARK will be responsible for sorting through applications, approvals or denials and payments to the students.
“Programs like this are important because they play a massive role in Michigan’s ability to be a leading state coming out of the economic challenges caused by the ongoing pandemic,” Hundt says. “Michigan can lead this recovery by having a strong workforce both in advanced manufacturing, technology, engineering and other fields.”
Applications are slated to go live in mid-April. Residents across the state are encouraged to apply. For more information, visit the Detroit Means Business website.