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Training Grants Help Prepare Hoosiers to Reach the Next Level

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ow more than ever, our state needs to ramp up efforts to prepare Hoosiers for the jobs available today—and for the one million more we expect to have open by 2025.”  These words, spoken by Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb, underscore the importance of the availability of economic incentives in the form of workforce training grants.  Although there are several grant options companies may consider when applying for incentives, there are three programs that have proven, at both the state and local levels, to be very effective tools for job attraction and retention efforts. 

What’s at the Next Level?

The newest Indiana training grant incentive, introduced in 2017, is the Next Level Jobs initiative. Administered through the Indiana Department of Workforce Development, the application and approval process is easily navigated.  Geared toward entry-level employees, Next Level Jobs is designed to do just what it implies: to prepare these workers for the next level of advancement within their companies.  Next Level Jobs requires no job growth or capital investment, but simply requires that a company focus on several positions for which internal growth is key.  Currently funded through 2021, this program offers reimbursement of up to $5,000 per employee with a $50,000 company max.

Real Reimbursement for Training

The Skills Enhancement Fund (SEF) grant is a powerful tool in Indiana’s economic incentive toolbox.  The SEF program is approved and administered through the Indiana Economic Development Corporation (IEDC), and grant funds are disbursed via a deposit to the company’s bank account.  To be approved, a company must show planned growth in headcount and capital investment, and must provide a 50% match for eligible training expenses.  The application is short and user-friendly, and once approved, the IEDC has proven to be flexible in approving eligible expenses.  Although certification and wage increase are desired outcomes, they are not required for a company to receive reimbursement of expenses.  At the time of expense submission, the company must provide requested information within the state’s portal on types of positions trained and wage prior to and after training.  While the expense gathering and submittal process can be a bit time-consuming, the outcome of timely expense reimbursement allows companies the ability to reinvest in other important initiatives. The company may be subject to an audit at the end of the two-year grant, and there is a five-year compliance reporting period.  The SEF incentive program has historically received continuous funding each Indiana budget year. 

Marion County Regional Focus

Designed to run concurrently with the SEF training grant is the City of IndianapolisTax Increment Financing (TIF) workforce grant.  If a company has a SEF grant in place and is also approved for a TIF grant, they can reap the additional benefit of receiving nearly 100% reimbursement for their eligible training expenses.  Similar to the SEF grant, to apply for a TIF grant a company must be creating new jobs, making new investment, and providing competitive wages.  The TIF grant does require a more extensive application and approval process, and the grant requirements include the caveat that a large percentage of the trainees be Marion County residents.  Generally, though, once approved, the TIF grant reimburses the same type of training expense as does the SEF grant, making record keeping a much simpler process.  There is a yearly compliance report required from the grant recipient to show progress toward employment and residency goals. 

Bringing the Vision into Focus

While there are several incentive options available to companies to assist with training, the three initiatives outlined here have proven to be very effective toward fulfilling Governor Holcomb’s vision of a trained workforce; not only for today’s jobs but also for those expected over the next several years. 

Susan Jarvis serves as Senior Client Advisor with Ginovus.