The Missouri Department of Economic Development recently announced more than $5.1 billion worth of funding had been awarded to companies across the state, a number of which are located in Maryville.
Four Maryville companies will be beneficiaries of the Workforce Division’s Customized Training Program, one that will award more than 186 companies with funds.
The program will help train more than 17,090 workers, 1,202 in newly created jobs and 15,888 in existing positions.
Kawasaki Motors Manufacturing Corp. USA, Laclede Chain Manufacturing Co., Federal-Mogul Motorparts and Maryville Tire Partners are the four Maryville companies listed in the program’s recipient list.
“Not only will this funding help Missouri workers gain new skills, it delivers value to Missouri businesses in an area of critical need — the availability of a quality workforce,” Gov. Mike Parson said in a statement. “By helping businesses train new and existing workers, we’re helping them stay competitive and remain here in Missouri.”
The $5.1 billion comes from Missouri’s Customized Training Program, which assists with business development by providing training to new and existing workers.
The customized training program gives companies the leeway to choose a training provider, but Missouri’s technical and community colleges are the administrators of the program.
For Kawasaki Motors Manufacturing Corporation, the latest round of funds are coming at an important time for the company.
Kawasaki is in the midst of adding new technology that would simulate processes on machines, relieving engineers and technicians of wasted time troubleshooting and potentially shutting down production.
With the help of state training funding, the company can use this to help train employees on this upcoming simulator as well as on other manufacturing and tech-centered positions.
“I think it’s huge,” Kawasaki Training Department Assistant Manager Mike Clements said. “I think it makes us more attractive to the newer engineers, the newer technicians coming out of school.”
Clements said having a training department where incoming applicants know they’ll get hands-on experience, versus being thrown to the wolves on the line, is a benefit.
“We realized that today’s workforce, they don’t get the experience, hands-on experience, that they used to,” Kawasaki Human Resources Administrator Brittney Langston said. “So we have people coming in that want to work at our facility that we need to take some more training up front to get them acclimated.”
Kawasaki has been receiving funds for the program for 21 years and has been granted almost three-quarters of a million dollars in that time.
“It allows us to go above and beyond what we normally budgeted for training,” Langston said. “There might be those (budget) items where we want to do two things but we only have the budget for one thing, because of this program, we can do both of them.”
As part of the program, 15 percent of total funding to Kawasaki goes to the local Northwest Technical School on South Munn Avenue.
“To be able to throw that support to the schools and also knowing we’re getting out customized money spent and they’re getting 15 percent of that to invest back into the school is huge as well,” Langston said.
Langston said the state’s support of manufacturing training through the program has helped make Kawasaki and the state overall more attractive.