Fort Wayne & NE Indiana News

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Region Gets $670,000 For Workforce Training

Northeast Indiana has been awarded a $670,148 Skill UP Indiana! grant to support training programs in the skilled trades and insurance industries.

Northeast Indiana Works and the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership collaborated to develop the scope of the initiatives. Key industry partners in the initiatives are the Northeast Indiana Building & Construction Trades Council, a group of 18 trades organizations, and Northeast Indiana Specialty Insurers, a group of seven insurers.

Counting matching funds and in-kind contributions, the investment in the programs will total $994,148. One of the significant matching contributions to the skilled trades initiative is $100,000 from the JPMorgan Chase Foundation.

“These initiatives will help fill talent pipelines for two growing, relatively high-wage industry sectors,” said Gary Gatman, executive vice president of strategic initiatives for Northeast Indiana Works. “This is a critical evolution of successful career pathway work that has already been completed in northeast Indiana.”

The skilled trades initiative will develop a pre-apprenticeship program that will serve as a springboard to paid apprenticeship programs. The program will include classes in technical skills (such as workplace safety, trade-related math and hands-on experience) and employability skills (such as teamwork, problem-solving and communication). It is anticipated that the classes, which can lead to industry-recognized credentials, will serve 120 adults across the region, with a focus on ensuring a diverse group of participants.

“Trades across the region are experiencing significant difficulty in finding quality workers, especially diverse talent,” said Darryl Esterline, head of Sheet Metal Workers Local 20 and president of the region’s trades council. “A regional feeder system that prepares people for careers in the trades is precisely what northeast Indiana needs.”

The insurance sector initiative will offer classes in insurance-specific information technology leading to the opportunity to earn industry-recognized credentials. It is anticipated the classes will serve 24 people already employed in the insurance industry.

“On behalf of the Northeast Indiana Specialty Insurers, I can say that we are very excited to partner in this innovative and necessary training program,” said Pat Sullivan, executive vice president of Hylant and chair of the Northeast Indiana Specialty Insurers. “Our ability to upskill our employees will be critical to the success of the insurance sector in northeast Indiana.”

In addition to the trades council, insurers group and regional partnership, other partners will include Allen County’s Gateway Coalition, Ivy Tech Community College Northeast, Local Economic Development Organizations (LEDOs), WorkOne Northeast, and community-based organizations throughout the region.

“The Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership is thrilled to continue our partnership with Northeast Indiana Works that has resulted in more than $2 million in Skill UP funds invested in our region over the past 18 months,” said Ryan Twiss, director of regional initiatives for the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership. “This opportunity to support key employment sectors in our region is truly a demonstration of the strength of collaboration.”

The latest Skill UP Indiana! grant was awarded by the Indiana Department of Workforce Development. Northeast Indiana previously received a $1.35-million Skill UP grant to support manufacturing program and equipment enhancements at the region’s five Career and Technical Education (CTE) districts and training programs for existing workers in the manufacturing sector.

About Northeast Indiana Works: Northeast Indiana Works, the region’s workforce development board, provides public and private financial and employment resources to businesses and individuals for education and skills training to meet the needs of regional industries. The nonprofit sets policy for how public and private funds are utilized to support talent development. It also operates and staffs the 11 county-based WorkOne Northeast career centers in the region. Individuals and companies may access resources and services by visiting or calling WorkOne in their county. To find your local WorkOne, log on to

About the Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership: The Northeast Indiana Regional Partnership was formed in 2006 to help build a globally competitive economy in Northeast Indiana. It is a public-private partnership focused on generating business leads and building regional capacity through product development and effective regional collaboration. In 2010, the Partnership launched Vision 2020 to bring the region together around five key areas for economic growth: 21st Century Talent, Competitive Business Climate, Entrepreneurship, Infrastructure and Quality of Life. Through its combined efforts in business development and capacity building, the Partnership supports its 11 member counties: Adams, Allen, DeKalb, Huntington, Kosciusko, LaGrange, Noble, Steuben, Wabash, Wells and Whitley counties. For more information, visit