Gulf Power workforce training grant
(Pensacola, FL) February 5, 2009 – Florida’s Great Northwest, Inc. is pleased to announce the award of a $347,385 workforce training grant to Gulf Power Company. The grant is part of the Workforce Innovation II Program, a component of Florida's Great Northwest’s WIRED Northwest Florida Initiative. Gulf Power will match the grant with $900,442 of its own funds as it develops a renewable energy skills program that will provide training for at least 166 Gulf Power employees and 21 interns over the next 12 months.
The Workforce Innovation II Program is designed to create education and training activities that lead to new job creation or employee advancement in Florida's Great Northwest’s four target technology-related industry clusters: Aviation, Aerospace, Defense & National Security; Health Science and Human Performance Enhancement; Renewable Energy and Environment; Transportation & Logistics Services; and the two critical support industries of Information Technology Services; and Research & Engineering.
“We believe during this global economic downturn that the citizens of Northwest Florida deserve some good news, and today’s grant announcement certainly represents good news,” said Al Wenstrand, President of Florida’s Great Northwest. “This represents a reinforcement of Florida’s Great Northwest’s and Gulf Power’s belief in the future of the region. Gulf Power’s ability to create innovative training programs that go beyond the boundaries of its employees to facilitate the development of an emerging Northwest Florida industry speaks volumes. Renewable energy, either for electric power or for biofuels as a method of reducing the nation’s dependency on foreign oil, is an exciting growth industry. Through activities such as announced today, Gulf Power is certainly demonstrating its leadership in developing the renewable energy industry as well as expressing its commitment to training its existing workforce for the jobs of tomorrow. Developing the renewable energy industry is part of Florida’s Great Northwest’s long-term strategy for creating a diversified and sustainable economy in Northwest Florida. A strong renewable energy strategy built around the region’s strengths and sound use of its resources is a central component for the region’s economic recovery. Today, both Gulf Power and Florida’s Great Northwest are demonstrating a strong commitment to our workforce and to the economic vitality of the region.”
“The concept behind the Workforce Innovation II Program is to address the mounting needs that exist for highly trained individuals in Northwest Florida’s high-tech, knowledge-based industries,” said Wenstrand. “Time and time again we hear businesses cite their number one concern as “a skilled workforce to meet their future employment requirements.” We believe that the organizations that are receiving the Workforce Innovation II grants will be able to implement innovative talent development programs to meet the region’s training needs.”
Gulf Power will be providing a match of $900,442 to the grant’s $347,385 to develop a two-part program. The first component addresses the training of existing workers and aims to transition their current skills to those required in the emerging renewable energy occupations. Gulf Power’s training programs funded through this grant will also be made available to outside individuals seeking similar skills. In the second program component, Gulf Power will be funding internships as a strategy to expand the availability of the energy workforce. This innovative, two-pronged approach will enhance Gulf Power’s existing employees’ knowledge base, as well as grow Northwest Florida’s future talent pool by providing training for those individuals currently in or seeking to enter the utility industry. Through the grant, Gulf Power anticipates training 166 existing workers and 21 interns.
Sandy Sims, Public Affairs Manager for Gulf Power stated, “Gulf Power is thrilled to be a recipient of the WIRED grant. This is truly an investment in the future of northwest Florida – this means jobs in our community! Some of the key areas we will be focused on are positions in renewable energy, conservation, engineering, and environmental – all positions that are critical to our energy future. Through innovative partnerships with colleges and community organizations, we are proud to be making a difference in the career choices and the futures of the talented students in our area.”
Jennifer Grove, Workforce Development Coordinator for Gulf Power stated, “In a time of such change for the energy industry and economic strain for our economy, this WIRED Northwest Florida Initiative Innovation II grant from Florida’s Great Northwest will allow us to provide both cutting-edge training for existing Gulf Power employees and to grow future talent through internships in critical high-skill, high-wage positions in our company. This unique training approach will ensure that employees are poised to continue in a leadership capacity for this growing sector for Northwest Florida.”
Through the Workforce Innovation II Program, Florida's Great Northwest is awarding a total of $962,426 to five Northwest Florida training providers with a grant match totaling $3,193,112 contributed by the awardees. The implementation of these programs will have a tremendous impact on the development of Northwest Florida’s workforce, will foster the growth of high-skill, high-wage jobs, and will support the development of the industries that will lead the region into a diversified and sustainable economy.
Eligibility for the grants was limited to Northwest Florida educational organizations or businesses in the targeted industries where instruction is conducted and jobs created in Northwest Florida. Qualifying jobs must meet the requirement of a wage of at least 125% of the regional average annual wage plus a defined benefits program. The individuals trained through the grant award must either be currently employed by a target industry employer in the region or be pursuing training for high-skill, high-wage target industry employment opportunities within Northwest Florida.
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