Wednesday, January 26, 2011

LG and GRCC Work together to Stimulate Holland, Michigan's Economy

LG Chem, Grand Rapids Community College agree to $19.6 million deal for training workers

Holland, MI — Grand Rapids Community College will provide training for LG Chem employees in a deal approved this week that will span 20 years.

LG Chem, a manufacturer of lithium-ion battery cells, is building a $300 million factory in Holland that will produce advanced storage power systems for the next generation of electric vehicles.

Employees will be hired by LG Chem, and some will be trained before the plant becomes operational in 2012. Between 300 and 400 new jobs are estimated to be created by 2013. The college is offering e-mail updates for people looking for more information on the program.

Ultimately, the company could spend an estimated $19.6 million to train more than 3,000 employees over the 20-year term of the deal. The Grand Rapids Community College Board of Trustees on Monday approved a Michigan New Jobs Training Program Agreement with LG Chem.

“I think this project is a testament to the hard work of the whole team,” said college spokesman Raul Alvarez. “A lot of caffeine and coffee went into this.”

LG Chem broke ground for its manufacturing facility in July 2010.

The curriculum for the training program has yet to be developed, said Mary Hofstra, GRCC’s senior program manager in workforce training.

GRCC officials were surprised when LG Chem officials said in an early December meeting that they wanted to put a training agreement on the agenda for the college’s January board meeting.

“We thought, ‘Oh my God, no way!’” Hofstra said. “But they are a hard-working group.” She said despite the ramped-up deadline, the process went more smoothly than it had for other clients.

LG Chem is the seventh company to sign a state-subsidized training agreement with GRCC. The others are Haworth, Trans-Matic, Johnson Controls Saft, Autocam, Farmer’s Insurance and Gentex.

The companies front the cash to the colleges, but are reimbursed through diverted payroll taxes as allowed by the Michigan New Jobs Training Program.

The training be for LG Chem will be separate — at least in funding — from a certificate program for energy storage technicians that GRCC will offer in the fall.

Officials plan to offer the one-year program both at GRCC’s Lakeshore Campus and its main Grand Rapids Campus, said Lakeshore Campus Dean Dan Clark.

Article found on HollandSentinel.com

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