Governor Scott Walker recently visited Word of Hope Ministries, Inc. in Milwaukee to highlight Milwaukee’s record low unemployment rate as well as over $1.6 million in Wisconsin Fast Forward (WFF) – Manufacturing Grant Awards.
“When we first took office, our unemployment rate was 8.1 percent, so our top priority was connecting people to good-paying jobs,” Governor Walker said during his June 23 visit. “Now, the unemployment rate for our state is 3.1 percent, and our priority has shifted from jobs, jobs, jobs to workforce, workforce, workforce. Now is the time for us to continue investing in our workforce to ensure the success of Wisconsin for generations to come.”
At the event, the Governor noted that the unemployment rate for the City of Milwaukee dropped to 4.0 percent, tying its lowest unemployment rate on record. Additionally, Milwaukee County is at its lowest unemployment rate on record for the month of May.
The Governor also announced a new round of WFF manufacturing grants that he said will continue to benefit Milwaukee and surrounding areas, including $185,862 to Wisconsin Regional Training Partnership, Inc. (WRTP/BIG STEP), a Milwaukee nonprofit, and a $98,617 grant that includes Milwaukee Area Technical College as a training partner.
The new grants will provide more than $1.6 million to fund 16 worker training projects that will benefit nearly 1,300 workers and more than 40 manufacturers statewide.
Word of Hope Ministries, Inc., which the Governor noted as a pillar of the Milwaukee community and a key resource for workforce development, received a $200,000 grant earlier this year from the WFF Milwaukee Grant Program to work with two separate employers – Patrick Cudahy and Quad Graphics – to train 300 total employees. Word of Hope has already held two training sessions.
The Governor was joined at the announcement by Department of Workforce Development (DWD) Secretary Ray Allen, Department of Health Services Secretary Linda Seemeyer, and Department of Children and Families Secretary Eloise Anderson.
“During the past four years, Governor Walker has invested more than $200 million of state funding in workforce development, including $30 million in WFF grants to Wisconsin employers for customized skills training to fill current job openings and ongoing skill requirements”, Secretary Ray Allen said. “DWD has awarded more than $20 million in WFF grant contracts to date, supporting more than 200 worker training projects, benefiting hundreds of businesses and thousands of workers throughout Wisconsin.”
About the WRTP/BIG STEP Grant
Wisconsin Regional Training Partnership will join five employers to train as many as 45 incumbent workers on Industrial Manufacturing skills. The training project will be conducted in partnership with Gateway, Lakeshore, Milwaukee Area and Waukesha Area Technical Colleges. Employers include Birds Eye-Pinnacle Foods, Hayes Performance Systems, Saco AEI Polymers, Weldall Fabrication Company and Wrought Washer Mfg., Inc.
“The future success of our state depends upon our ability to provide our next generation of workers with the practical skills and knowledge they need to thrive in the 21st-century workforce,” Governor Walker added. “With the help of state agencies like DWD and other workforce partners throughout the state, we’re making crucial investments in workforce development. Job opportunities exist in Milwaukee and all throughout the state – now we’re focused on bridging the skills gap and empowering Wisconsin’s workers.”