N.H. program serves 10,000 workers
State collaborates with companies to fund job training
PORTSMOUTH – Late last month, Gov. John Lynch announced the latest round of grants through the New Hampshire Job Training Fund, which distributes up to $2 million annually in matching grants to allow companies to train new workers or retrain longtime employees.
Put in place four years ago, Lynch administration officials say the grants have helped some 10,000 New Hampshire workers from hundreds of companies of all sizes and all types of business. Lynch said the program has been an important component in helping the state deal with the nationwide economic recession and slow recovery that began in 2008.
"Through the Job Training Fund, we are keeping good jobs and good companies right here in New Hampshire," Lynch said. "This is a significant milestone, and I look forward to continuing to work with companies and workers to ensure we are giving them the tools they need to be successful."
Dozens of companies in the Seacoast region have applied for and received grants to train or retrain their employees on a wide range of skill enhancements. A short list of the local companies that have taken part in the program include: High Liner Foods Inc., FlexEnergy Energy Systems, Resource Labs, Salient Surgical Technologies Inc. (which was recently sold for $525 million) and PixelMedia, all in Portsmouth; Northeast Lantern Ltd. in Exeter; Goss Manufacturing in Dover; and TradePort USA LLC in Somersworth.
PixelMedia received an $18,000 grant in July 2010 and matched that with $22,000 of its money. Company co-founder Thomas Obrey said PixelMedia spent every cent of its training fund grant, and it helped the company significantly boost training for a majority of its 60-person strong work force and improve morale simultaneously.
"We applied because it (the grant) allowed us to target a significant amount of money to staff betterment," Obrey said. "We stretched the money in a lot of good ways. It was instrumental in sending staff members to career enrichment courses and seminars all across the country for three, four or five days that they might not otherwise have attended."
The digital media design company will soon celebrate its 17th birthday, and it has undergone a major growth spurt over the past few years. Obrey added that one of the unexpected benefits of a focus on training was the boost in morale for a company that was already strong in that department. "It was as much inspirational as it was educational," he said.
In May, California-based FlexEnergy Inc. said it would match its Job Training Fund grant of $30,000 with $34,000 to train as many as 20 new people to help fuel the expansion of its clean energy turbine manufacturing division in Portsmouth. “The state’s grant will help us continue to hire and train quality employees to deliver innovative technology to our customers including the federal government, one of the largest single energy consumers,” said Joseph Perry, chief executive officer of FlexEnergy Inc.
Since the first grants were awarded in November 2007, companies have matched the state’s grants of some $3.6 million with almost $6 million of their own money. George Bald, the executive director of the state Department of Resources and Economic Development, believes the program has been successful and popular because it has been flexible and responsive to the diverse needs of the business community.
"It works for a three-person machine shop or a major company like Goss Manufacturing. It can be done quickly with as little paperwork as possible," Bald said. Often within 30 days of an application being received, Bald said, an advisory committee makes a recommendation and informs the company. Bald said this allows the company to move forward quickly with its training plans.
Bald said funding of the program from a Department of Employment Security account was initially viewed skeptically by some in the business community because they feared a rise in unemployment insurance rates. But the money is unrelated to unemployment insurance rates paid by employers and comes from federal funds.
"If the program went away tomorrow, it wouldn’t affect those rates one way or another," Bald said. "The fact that companies are more than matching the state grants tells us how popular the program is. It helps employees get new skills that are transferable."
Obrey at PixelMedia said his company will reapply for an even larger training grant in the next month. Bald said reapplication has become a growing trend for companies that have used the program.
For information about the New Hampshire Job Training Fund and to see a list of grant recipients, visit nhjobtrainingfund.org.
For a decade, TradePort has offered an outsourcing service for asset recovery, third-party logistics, and reverse logistics for consumer electronics. Our New England warehouse and headquarters offers reverse logistics, consumer electronics test and repair, manufacturer warranty negotiation, Internet marketing and resale.
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