January 20th, 2022

$540,000 grant aims to help regional advanced manufacturing and technology companies attract & retain talent

As many as 20 companies have until Feb. 16 to apply for up to $25,000 in funding to offset career training costs

Advanced ManufacturingInformation TechnologyWest Michigan

As many as 20 advanced manufacturing and technology companies throughout West Michigan will have the opportunity to secure up to $25,000 in funding that, among other things, will help lower wage employees earn career-building industry certifications and training.

The $540,000 Regional Talent Innovation Grant was awarded recently by the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) to Grand Rapids economic development agency The Right Place, Inc., who will accept grant applications February 2 through February 16. Also on February 2, The Right Place will conduct an informational webinar for potential applicants. Webinar registration details can be found here.

The $539,771 to The Right Place comes from MEDC’s Regional Talent Innovation Grant program, which has allocated $7.5 million in Community Development Block Grant-CARES Act funding to local economic development organizations and workforce development partners. Each partner organization was provided between $500,000 and $950,000 to administer training programs that target growth in specific occupations in high demand from regional employers. A priority will be given to training programs focused on low- to moderate-income individuals, particularly those living in geographically disadvantaged areas. More information on the MEDC program can be found here.

The Right Place was awarded the funding to implement a pilot program, called the Talent Pathways Program, which aims to fund as much as $25,000 to up 20 companies who work in the advanced manufacturing and technology sectors in the counties of Allegan, Barry, Ionia, Kent, Montcalm, Muskegon, and Ottawa. Applicants must commit to completing Work-Ready credentials and/or advanced manufacturing and technology certificates for at least 5 employees by March 2023.

An additional goal of the Talent Pathways program is for at least 100 employees to earn credentials ranging from the Michigan Works! Work Ready certificate to industry certifications or apprenticeships in advanced manufacturing or technology by March 31, 2023. Fifty-one percent of those employees must be considered low income.

“We’re excited to partner with these great organizations to pilot an offering that serves our regional employers and addresses one of the most common barriers to their growth,” said Randy Thelen, President & CEO, The Right Place, Inc. “This initiative will strengthen talent retention and recruitment efforts by helping companies develop a diverse talent pool, build a culture of success for lower-wage employees, and access other workforce training resources available to our region.”

“There are so many great opportunities in the workforce, but our community is often left behind,” said Evelyn Esparza-Gonzalez, Executive Director, Hispanic Center of Western Michigan. “We are excited and hopeful to work through this partnership with The Right Place and other community organizations in order to be the bridge for our clients to access these great opportunities.”

“We look forward to working collaboratively with The Right Place and our partners to bring these much needed resources to the community,” said Eric Brown, CEO, Urban League of West Michigan. “This pilot program will be a key tool as we continue working to advance economic equity in the West Michigan region and provide opportunities for individuals be on a road to earning a thriving wage.”

Applications will go live on The Right Place website (rightplace.org/talentpathways) February 2, 2022. To apply for consideration, companies must submit an online application by February 16. Applications will be reviewed and awarded by March 1.

Informational Session:

  • Live webinar, Wednesday, February 2 at 8:00 am.
  • Learn more about the program and ask questions.
  • Registration required.
    Session will be recorded.
  • Register here


Who can apply:

Advanced manufacturing and technology employers located in the following counties:

  • Allegan
  • Barry
  • Ionia
  • Kent
  • Montcalm
  • Muskegon
  • Ottawa


Applicant requirements:

Applicants must commit to completing Work-Ready credentials and/or advanced manufacturing and technology certificates for at least 5 employees by March 2023.


How to apply:

  • Applications will go live on The Right Place’s website February 2, 2022.
  • To apply for consideration, submit your online application by February 16.
  • Applications will be reviewed and awarded by March 1.


Questions and more information:

Contact Jodi Nichols at nicholsj@rightplace.org or 231-742-3328.


Talent Pathway Program partners:


This program is made possible by the support received from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation.