TC3 provides training grants to area businesses

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This month, Tompkins Cortland Community College secured over $92,000 worth of training grants for 11 local organizations in Tompkins and Cortland counties, helping employees receive the training they need to improve their job performance.

The grants ($92,500 total) were secured from the SUNY Community College Workforce Development Training program and are designed to “provide workforce development training programs that support the creation and retention of employment opportunities in the state and local community,” according to a recent press release.

BIZ, TC3’s workforce development and continuing education center, provided the training to over 300 employees. Carrie Whitmore, director of Continuing Education and Workforce Development at BIZ, worked with the businesses to secure the grants and design training programs that addressed their needs. She said the grants have always been an important program for the college.

“Any time we put together training opportunities in conjunction with employers to help their employees increase their skills, that is a success story,” Whitmore said. “[It] is a huge win for us as a college. We really like being able to assist our community and our business partners and the businesses in the community to help grow their human capital.”

This is the 15th year TC3 has secured training grants such as these, in total securing more than $1.17 million. This year’s grant total is the largest in five years, Whitmore said, thanks in large part to SUNY allotting more funds for the program. She said she has seen what a positive impact the training grants can have for local businesses.

“Employees, when they feel like their company is investing in them, providing them the training opportunities, it lets them know that their company believes in them, that they’re valued,” Whitmore said. “And that helps to retain employees. It gives them opportunities to grow and move up in the organization.”

The 11 recipients of the grant funding were Transonic Systems (Ithaca); First National Bank of Dryden (Cortland, Dryden and Homer); YWCA of Cortland (Cortland); Cayuga Addiction Recovery Services (Trumansburg); CAPCO (Cortland); Intertek (Cortland); BorgWarner (Ithaca); KIK Marietta (Cortland); Racker (Cortland, Ithaca and Owego); Q2 (Ithaca); and Stork H&E (Danby).

Debbie Chadwick, human resource manager at Stork H&E, a turbine engineering company, said her business received approximately $8,300 for GDT training for engineers and quality control staff members. Chadwick said applying for the grant and working with BIZ was a simple and rewarding experience.

“They made the process for applying and obtaining the training grants very easy, and the administrative burden was minimal on my part,” Chadwick said. “They really streamlined the process.”

Stork H&E has received similar funding through BIZ for supervisory development and other training programs in the past as well. Since Stork is a relatively small company, Chadwick said, the grant money has helped it provide the necessary training for employees to do efficient work while not going over budget.

“Every penny counts, so being able to apply for those funds to assist in funding training initiatives affords us the opportunity to be able to do that for our employees and for the success of the business,” she said. “Training programs are crucial for our organizational development and success, as well as the development, growth and success of our employees.”

Thomas Ravener, a representative for KIK Marietta, a hospitality company, said Marietta received roughly $26,000 for 32 employees to go through various job-specific training courses in areas like critical thinking, problem solving and Excel. Ravener said Marietta sees value in the training programs, something employees had expressed interest in previously.

“It shows that we have a vested interest in each and every one of the employees that are here,” Ravener said. “Education is key to doing all kinds of things, not necessarily just for the workplace. But it also helps them in general life.”

Marietta’s training was modeled after polls employees completed based on education they thought they needed, and Ravener said the company is already seeing results. Down time and equipment scrap has decreased, and quality of performance has increased, since completion of the training programs, he said.

“As we try to make the business more streamlined and try to work on getting better in manufacturing and the overall processes, we need to capture data so we can do an analysis and see where we can improve some of our processes and procedures,” Ravener said. “We wanted to see an overall gain in what we do from the facility. … So far, it’s worked out considerably well.”

Primary addiction counselor at Cayuga Addiction Recovery Services (CARS) Cassandra Weaver said CARS has never received grant funding through BIZ for training before, but being able to provide embracing differences training for employees was invaluable.

“We see a very diverse population here at our facility, and I think cultural competency is one of those things that you can never stop learning,” Weaver said. “You learn to recognize biases within yourself and how that translates to how you interact with everyone around you.”

Weaver said the training at CARS helped employees learn how to interact better with a diverse client base, and everyone who received the training expressed appreciation for the opportunity to improve.

Kelly Tobin, executive director for the Cortland YWCA, said the training grants BIZ provided for supervisory development for senior staff helped the YWCA achieve its mission.

“I think the biggest part of what the YWCA represents is a voice that not everyone has,” Tobin said. “Our leadership, myself included, make sure that those voices are heard.”

Like other businesses who received funding, YWCA would not have been able to afford the training programs otherwise, Tobin said, and she is glad securing that funding was an easy process. BIZ staff and instructors were informative, cooperative and knowledgeable, she said.

“It was one of the easiest grants I’ve actually ever had to apply for,” Tobin said. “I thought it was very well organized, and Carrie was amazing. … It was a wonderful experience.”

YWCA employees, too, enjoyed the experience and felt it helped them perform better at their positions.

“They all walked away feeling that they’d absolutely learned new ways to motivate and to lead and engage and communicate with other team members,” Tobin said. “Many of them thanked us for the opportunity.”

Chadwick said she would recommend these training grants to any business moving forward.

“I certainly fully support applying for the training grants for any company and working with TC3 BIZ,” Chadwick said. “They are extremely crucial in the success in applying for those funds and working with companies to streamline and assure success and approval of those grants.”

Whitmore said there are plans to continue the training grant program through BIZ in years to come as TC3 learns what funds SUNY has made available. All businesses interviewed expressed gratitude toward BIZ for the grants, and some plan to work with BIZ in the future for more training programs.

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