News Release

Published on Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Western Technical College will receive more than $67,000 in Workforce Advancement Training grants to upgrade the skills of 366 workers at four manufacturers from the 7 Rivers Region.

“This is Governor Doyle’s Grow Wisconsin plan in action, investing in people, growing our economy and creating jobs,” said Department of Workforce Development (DWD) Secretary Roberta Gassman.

As part of his Grow Wisconsin plan, Governor Doyle created the Workforce Advancement Training (WAT) grant program in the 2005-2007 budget with $2 million, and it has provided training to nearly 30,000 incumbent workers employed by businesses throughout the state. With the current budget, he provided $5 million for WAT grants over the two-year period. Over the last three years, Western and their business partners have brought in almost ½ a million dollars in WAT Grant revenue and trained over 1900 workers.

“We are thrilled to partner with businesses in our district and provide truly customized training to help their organizations thrive said Patti Balacek, director of Western’s Business and Industry Services Division. With the challenging economy, businesses need training more than ever to increase productivity, deal with changing technology and prepare for the inevitable workforce shift created when baby boomers begin retiring. This type of support from the state is critical as our region moves forward,”

The WAT grants through Western will provide the following training:
• Atlas Proppants, LLC, Taylor – Western will customize and deliver training in supervisory management to five key employees at Atlas Proppants, a unique niche business (one of only five in the nation) that manufactures resin-coated sand, which is used to stabilize rock that has been fractured during the oil-drilling process. The company plans to double production this year and add more employees. The training will allow current employees to take on leadership roles.

• Trust Point, Inc., La Crosse – Western will provide training to 52 employees at North Central Trust Company, a full-service trust and investment company that provides investment management, philanthropic administration, trust, estate planning, and retirement plan services for businesses and individuals. The employees will learn supervisory and presentation skills to help them effectively position the company for the future.

• Northern Engraving Corporation, Sparta – Western will provide training in Critical Core Manufacturing Skills, Project Management, AutoCad, and Blueprint Reading for 262 employees of Northern Engraving Corporation, a company that creates a variety of identity products, such as nameplates that identify a product or manufacturer, and decorative trim for Original Equipment Manufacturers. The training will improve workplace performance and increase efficiency.

• Ocean Nutrition, Arcadia – Western will provide 47 employees with skills and knowledge needed to increase productivity and improve market competitiveness. Training will focus on supervisory management, team-building, and workplace safety practices. Ocean Nutrition’s Arcadia plant processes fish oil into healthy food ingredients and dietary supplements.

“Despite the major economic difficulty at the national level, the Wisconsin economy is holding its own, due to investments we have made under Governor Doyle’s leadership,” Secretary Gassman said. “In the months ahead, we must take the next steps to keep Wisconsin moving forward and ensure a first-rate workforce.”

The grants will be managed through Western’s Business and Industry Services division, which specializes in customized training aimed at increasing productivity and profitability through employee skill development. For more information about Western Technical College programs and services for business and industry, call 608.785.9232 or visit the Web site at