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Michigan Provides Funds for Community College Training Equipment

By Reyna Gobel

Michigan is making $50 million available to the state’s community colleges to purchase training equipment that will help fill the skills gap.

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder’s dedication to community colleges began when he took community college courses in high school to the cut the cost of his college education. This fall, he received an associate of arts degree from Kellogg Community College thanks to the dual-enrollment and reverse-transfer credits he’d earned.

As governor, Snyder knows that community college training is integral to the success of his state’s businesses. With that in mind, Snyder supported $50 million in funding for the training equipment needs at the state’s 28 community colleges. To qualify for the funds, colleges must pitch in a 25 percent match for their funding requests and use the equipment to train students for middle-skills careers that are in demand now.

We found out a little more about how Michigan community colleges can qualify for a piece of this $50 million pie.

What are the funding parameters?

Colleges looking to tap this funding must use it for training equipment that costs a minimum of $10,000 per item. The money can’t be used to build a standard computer lab; however, a college can use the funding for $50,000 specialty computers with numeric controls, says Amy Cell, senior vice president of talent enhancement for the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC), which is in charge of distributing the funds.

One college is considering building a full assembly line that would cost $2-3 million. If MEDC approves $2 million in funding for this project, the college will have to provide $500,000 of its own dollars, the required 25 percent match.

Is funding automatic for colleges that apply?

Community colleges must show they have the matching funds, and they will have to meet the requirements in proposal guidelines, Cell says. If many colleges apply, the money will be awarded based on a point system tied to the funding criteria. For example:

  • Colleges earn additional points if they can show they are committed to continuing the program after the grant ends and that the program will be financially sustainable.
  • In the degree/credential category, colleges accumulate points based on how the equipment will be used, wages earned upon completion, job growth projections and student demand for the training.
  • Applicants will have to show that employers are interested in hiring graduates trained with the requested equipment. Colleges also need to have support from partners, such as high schools involved in a dual-enrollment program with the college.

Is preference given to certain training or job sectors?

No. A renewable energy program will be considered as equally as a welding program, Cell says. The keys are student demand for the training and workplace demand for the newly skilled graduates.

What training equipment does your college need most? Tell us in the Comments.

Reyna Gobel

is a contributor to the 21st-Century Center.

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