BY SHARON HILLSTROM


In July, we celebrate Independence Day, families take summer vacations, and the State of Florida launches a new budget year. That’s right: July 1 signaled a fresh start on many sources of funding from the state.

For businesses, July means the start of another round of workforce training grants – matching funds that can reimburse employers for a portion of training costs.

Workforce training grants are important to our local economy because as employees improve their skills and become more relevant in today’s marketplace, employers can grow their businesses at a faster pace, creating even more jobs. Also, as employees learn new skills, they may earn higher wages to spend on housing, transportation, consumer goods and more – supporting other local businesses.

So, what’s the catch? Employers should apply early because the grants are divvied out first-come, first-served.

Several programs are provided by different agencies, and the options can be confusing. Nonetheless, with assistance from the Bradenton Area Economic Development Corp. and CareerSource Suncoast, businesses in Manatee County have been highly successful in winning matching grants that help pay for training from providers such as Manatee Technical College and State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota.

In the previous state fiscal year, a total of $126,000 in matching grants administered by CareerSource Florida helped Manatee County employers enhance employee skills.

Here’s a quick run-down on the major training grant programs that became available July 1:

Quick Response Training Grants – For businesses that expand or relocate in Florida, are in targeted industries, and that export goods or services outside of Florida. This fiscal year, the state budgeted $9 million for this program, capped at $500,000 per qualifying company.

Incumbent Worker Training – For upgrading skills of existing employees. Both Quick Response and Incumbent Worker are administered at the state level by CareerSource Florida.

Employed Worker Training – Similar to the state’s Incumbent Worker program, but administered locally by CareerSource Suncoast and generally targeted to a shorter timeframe for training.

On-the-Job Training – The grant shares the company’s cost of training new employees in-house.

For businesses, it’s not important to remember which programs do what. Instead, it’s important to know that training assistance exists, the Bradenton Area EDC and CareerSource Suncoast can help, and you need to act now while the funding is available. For more information, visit BradentonAreaEDC.com/workforce-training-grants or contact Elizabeth Cordes, ecordes@bradentonareaedc.com, 941-803-9033.