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Coalition receives grant for manufacturers training





The Ellis County Coalition for Economic Development announced Thursday it has been awarded a $200,000 grant from the Dane G. Hansen Foundation.

The grant will assist manufacturers train job-seekers in welding skills and also provide short-term welding training through North Central Kansas Technical College.

"The grant really has two components to it," said ECCED executive director Aaron White.

"One is going to be for the purchase of two MIG (metal inert gas) welding simulators. These will be kept and lent out to area manufacturers to be used in short-term, on-the-job training that they would do at their facility. It's going to be lent out at little or no cost.

"The other component is going to be working with NCK Tech and our other workforce development partners. We're targeting a 40-hour basic welding course. ... It's not really meant to replace a degree program."

The training program will be provided by NCK Tech in Hays, where welding classes already are taught, White said.

"The fund will help pay for the training costs to establish the program and will help match federal dollars to cover some of the tuition costs," White said.

Not just Ellis County companies will be able to take advantage of the grant.

"Companies within multiple counties around Ellis County will be eligible to utilize these funds," White said.

If this proves successful for training welders, the concept could expand to other trades.

"It's kind of a testing ground for short-term type training," White said. "If we find that it's viable and it works and it meets the needs of the employers, the next phase will be to branch out to employers who have other trade skills needs."

White said discussions with the Hansen foundation started late last year, and a formal application was made last month. White said he expects NCK Tech training to start sometime this year, and companies could start using the welding simulators soon after they are purchased.

"Very excited," White said. "We've been working on this for a while, something we've been discussing for quite some time."