MMDC’s Regional Talent Innovation Program funds $750,000 in free trainings across mid Michigan

What’s happening: Middle Michigan Development Corporation (MMDC) launched the Regional Talent Innovation Program (RTI) in 2022 to provide training for over 200 people who live and/or work in eight counties throughout mid Michigan, including Arenac, Bay, Clare, Gladwin, Gratiot, Isabella, Midland, and Saginaw counties. The program is funded through a combination of grant funds – culminating in nearly $750,000 – from CARES, Federal, and Michigan Strategic Fund dollars. 

RTI’s rollout began earlier in the fall of 2022 with employers, and professional trainings for those looking to reskill, upskill, or gain additional skills, are encouraged to sign up for free courses through April 2023.

Why it’s important: Individuals across the area can receive up to two industry-recognized credentials from Delta College or Mid Michigan College at no cost. Eligible trainings are intended to specifically improve advanced manufacturing skills across the region, including focus areas that range from technical skills to supervisory oversight and safety practices.

By the end of 2022, more than 20 companies had indicated interest in having teams of employees receive free training through the program. Via support from Michigan Works! agencies, college corporate training teams, and the region’s economic development organizations, these employers can develop customized plans to achieve their goals.

(Photo courtesy of MMDC)What they’re saying: “We surveyed our regional employers to determine how to best meet their talent needs,” explains Jim McBryde, president and CEO of MMDC. “It’s clear that our companies have a variety of training needs to support their safe and strong operations. We hope that this program provides an important pathway for people to get trained, while also alleviating some of the challenges that face employers.”

“The grant intentionally supports entry-level skills so that new workers can advance in their current roles and improve their earning potential,” McBryde adds. “At least 51% of the people who are trained through RTI must fall below the low-to-moderate income threshold, and that’s because we understand how vital it is to create economic opportunity at all levels of our communities.”

Why it’s unique: The MMDC team created the program, plans, and processes from scratch, as the Regional Talent Innovation Program is the first program of its kind. MMDC notes that although launching the program was not easy, they hope its success will model additional opportunities in Michigan to improve skilled training. 

What’s next: “To support their employees, Bandit Industries, Inc., Unified Brands, and American Mitsuba Corporations are a few corporations looking to launch free trainings through this program,” shares Jessie Stickler, director of communications at Middle Michigan Development Corporation. To view courses available through April, and to find more information about the Regional Talent Innovation Program, the community is invited to visit mmdc.org/training.

Read more articles by Courtney Jerome.

With 15 years of professional media experience, Courtney Jerome has found a passion for storytelling and showcasing our region in a positive light. She's written stories for television broadcasts, numerous magazines, and digital publications. In addition, she owns a boutique creative marketing agency that focuses on social media, photo, and video storytelling for small businesses across Michigan and the country — courtneyjeromemedia.com. Contact Courtney, the managing editor of Epicenter, at editor@epicentermtpleasant.com.