Herald Standard Newspaper; Posted: Monday, March 21, 2016 2:00 am
Dennis Davin, DCED secretary, told the gathering of business owners, educators, development agencies, county officials and state legislators from Greene, Washington and Beaver counties that the DCED has resources available to help businesses.
Gov. Tom Wolf wants to increase funding for PA First, which provides grants and loans for job training, equipment and property purchases, working capital and demolition.
“The real challenge is educating our workforce,” Davin said.
The 2015-16 budget allocates $16 million for the Workforce and Economic Development Network of Pennsylvania, or WEDnetPa, and provides funding to employers for training employees, he said.
One of Wolf’s priorities in the 2016-17 budget is the Pennsylvania Industrial Development Authority (PIDA), Davin said. PIDA offers low interest loans and lines of credit for businesses that create and retain full-time jobs and develop industrial parks and multi-tenant facilities.
Davin said the Office of International Business Development (OIBD), which helps local companies with exports and encourages foreign investment in the state, helped businesses record $3 billion in export sales and create and sustain 25,000 jobs in the state. OIBD has offices in 26 counties, he said.
Southwest Training Services Inc. of Washington, runs a program that uses federal money to pay half of an employee’s wages up to $8,000 if a company in Greene or Washington county trains and hires the employee, said Lisa Neil, company president
Neil said Southwest also offers free pre-employment screenings and tests for businesses and helps workers find and train for jobs.
She told the business owners that unemployed coal miners will be looking for jobs.
“We have a lot of great guys who want to get back to work,” Neil said.
Don Chappel, director of the Greene County Industrial Development Inc., encouraged all employers to consider hiring former coal miners to fill job openings.
He also encouraged businesses to seek tax exempt financing for expansion or purchases.
Beaver County Community College meets with three to five employers weekly to develop programs that students need to land jobs, said John Goberish, of of the school’s workforce development department.
The school works with Nova Chemical Corp., BASF Corp. and FirstEnergy to design programs for industrial jobs, such as process control, he said.
“We meet with industry to modify curriculum to match jobs,” Goberish said.
James DeNova, vice president of the Benedum Foundation of Pittsburgh, said the foundation provides grants to career and technical training agencies in southwestern Pennsylvania and northern West Virginia.
Private philanthropy can provide grants to programs that the government might find too risky, he said.
“We can risk failure with private dollars that you can’t with public dollars,” DeNova said.
Chevron has committed $20 million over four years to workforce training, he said.
The governors of Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia signed pact to work with each other on employment, DeNova said.
The apprenticeship and training office was recently created in the state Department of Labor and Industry to help create apprenticeships and expand apprenticeship programs into businesses that haven’t used them in the past, said Frank Staszko, assistant regional director of the department of labor.