LANSING-A Senate panel held a hearing on Wednesday on a bill to expand the successful Michigan New Jobs Training Program (MNJTP), an economic development incentive established in 2008.
"My top priority since arriving in the Michigan Senate has been putting people back to work in this state," said Senate Education Committee Chair Phil Pavlov, R-St. Clair Township. "This is a highly successful, locally driven program bringing benefits to communities all across Michigan. It's time to remove some arbitrary restrictions to the program and maximize its job-creation potential."
The MNJTP lets community colleges create a training pool through flexible financing mechanisms to support employers who are creating jobs or expanding operations in Michigan. Senate Bill 1074, sponsored by Sen. Mark C. Jansen, R-Grand Rapids, would remove certain technical restrictions to allow the program to expand.
Under the program, training for newly hired workers is paid by capturing the state income tax associated with the new employees' wages and redirecting it to a local college, instead of to the state. These new jobs must pay at least 175 percent of the state minimum wage (or $12.95 per hour).
St. Clair County Community College (SC4) is one of the schools taking part in the program. The college has existing partnerships with SMR Automotive of Marysville and Grace Engineering of Memphis, and a new contract between SC4 and Eissmann Automotive of Port Huron was just agreed to this month.
Dr. Kevin Pollock, president of SC4, testified about the value of the program to St. Clair County and the Thumb region. He touted the program's direct benefits, including 145 new jobs with SMR Automotive and Grace Engineering.
"In addition to job creation, key elements of the program include eliminating the skills gap by providing training that exactly meets employers' needs and providing local flexibility for educators and employers to design arrangements that meet the needs of individual communities," Pollock said.
The committee also heard testimony from Frank Ervin, CEO of Magna International Inc., which has a presence in St. Clair County. Mr. Ervin recognized the MNJTP as "a successful public/private partnership based on the recognition of the key challenges and the most effective solutions for Michigan and its residents" that has helped Magna to make "increased investment and hiring commitments in Michigan."
Sai Tatineni, managing director of SMR Automotive's Marysville facility, is scheduled to testify before the committee in a second hearing next Wednesday, Sept. 24. The committee is expected to vote on the bill to send it to the full Senate at that time.
Photo caption: St. Clair County Community College President Dr. Kevin Pollock testifies before the Senate Education Committee on the benefits of the Michigan New Jobs Training Program.
Photo caption: Sen. Phil Pavlov, R-St. Clair Township, speaks with Frank Ervin, CEO of St. Clair Countys Magna International Inc., about the benefits of the Michigan New Jobs Training Program.