The fourteen community workforce development grants recently approved by the states are heavy on local training. Consider the grant the City of Pierre won. Pierre proposed a $100,000+ two-pronged program.

First, Pierre says it needs more truck drivers for construction (how's that for specific workforce needs?). They want to create a branch of Mitchell Technical Institute's commercial driver's license (CDL) training program in Pierre. They also want to cover the cost of that training and licensing (about $2,500) for each of those potential drivers. In return, the new CDL holders would promise to work for their sponsoring company for a period to be determined or pay the money back of they leave early.

Second, Pierre wants to target the 10% of local high school students in the area who apparently don't have solid post-secondary education or career plans with a job-shadowing program. The city would line sixteen kids up with employers who need more potential workers in their hiring pipeline. The shadowers would do real work eight hours a week for sixteen weeks. They'd get paid real money, $10 an hour—a quarter from the business, a quarter from the city, and half from the state grant.

Pierre asked for $50,240 from the state; they got $20,480, which equals the total cost of the job-shadow program.

Why would Pierre focus on training local young people and current residents who can't afford CDL training? Let me highlight one passage from Pierre's application:

...[W]e looked at strategies for building that pipeline and identified two primary options.

  • recruiting people from outside of South Dakota
  • engaging people who are already near, but not currently engaged in the workforce

Our employers tell us, historically those who come from outside the area don’t stick around. To retain employees, they need a local connection. So, we chose the engagement route and explored a number of disengaged workforce sources... [City of Pierre, Community Incentives Matching Program grant application, November 2014].

Trying to recruit out-state workers apparently doesn't work, at least not in Pierre. Our capital city thus chooses to grow its own workforce.

Update 11:01 CST: Hmmm... the Gregory Business and Industrial Development Corporation is getting $7,000 from the state as part of its $14,000 program to help local folks get their CDL. Gregory's application says the cost of CDL training and testing through MTI is $1,600 per student, not $2,500. Gregory will support ten students in their CDL class. The state will pick up $700 for each student, local GBIDC donations another $700, and each student the remaining $200.