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Wisconsin governor announces training support

Gov. Jim Doyle spoke to about 100 area leaders, educators and legislators Monday morning at WITC in New Richmond.

Doyle spoke to a crowd of local officials, legislators, Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College staff and students in the machine tool classroom at the school.

Standing among large pieces of manufacturing machines, Doyle said Wisconsin is poised to meet the challenges faced by a declining national economy.

Job and business growth will come in the manufacturing sector, he said, because there will always be a demand for actual products.

"As a country we have to get back to the basics," he said. "You have to have an economy that is based on producing something. That's what's going to take us into the future."

The technical college system's ability to work with manufacturers to meet their needs for training and re-educating the workforce will play a significant role in Wisconsin's continued economic strength.

"I believe very strongly that the technical colleges are at the heart of what we're trying to do in this state," Doyle told the crowd.

As proof of the state's commitment to partnering with technical colleges and businesses, Doyle announced several targeted grants that will help train more than 400 employees in the coming months. The grants fall under the Workforce Advancement Training Grant program, established in 2005.

A $43,000 grant will allow WITC to work with Federal Foam Technologies in New Richmond and Northwire in Osceola to train 47 employees in areas of productivity and quality.

A $150,000 award will allow WITC, Chippewa Valley Technical Colleges and the University of Wisconsin-Stout to work with area plastics businesses on training programs for 328 employees. Included among the participating businesses are Phillips Plastics Corporation, Contour Plastics, ITW Engineered Fasteners and Vital Plastics.

"I congratulate the businesses that sit down together and decide what they need, " Doyle said of the training partnerships that have been developed. "This is exactly the Wisconsin common sense way of doing things -- all working together to make sure people are getting the skills they need."

A final $18,000 grant will allow WITC and CVTC to work with OEM Fabricators to train 40 employees in leadership and management.

Doyle said the goal of the training efforts will be to make northwestern businesses more profitable and to reduce employee turnover.

"At the end of the day ... we are going to be doing great things in the state of Wisconsin," he predicted.

Newly appointed Commerce Commissioner Dick Leinenkugel accompanied Doyle for the local announcement.

Leinenkugel urged business owners to provide input on what works for businesses and what doesn't work in the state.

He pledged to work with business and industry to ensure that they can "compete in the global economy."

During a short question-and-answer session at WITC, Doyle said he is committed to providing opportunities for all of the states residents to attend higher education in order to prepare for higher-paying jobs.

He said he will support efforts to expand financial aid availability for those who need help paying for schooling. He also touted the state's under-utilized apprentice program as something he'd like to see "scaled up."

Later in the day, Doyle traveled to Great Northern Corporation in Chippewa Falls and Air Motion Systems in River Falls to announce Technology Zone tax credits that will help the companies compete and grow.