FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Director of Communications
Jan. 6, 2016 GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A $45,000 grant from the JPMorgan Chase Foundation will allow Grand Rapids Community College to develop certification programs in the high-growth fields of logistics and industrial sewing.
Bill Pink, vice president and dean of GRCC's School of Workforce Development, said both programs are the result of requests from area employers.
"These programs are directly related to how GRCC continues to lend our ear to the needs of the business and industry community of West Michigan, and we will continually pay close attention to their voices as they share with us," he said.
A previous grant from JPMorgan Chase allowed GRCC to pilot an industrial sewing program in fall 2014 that addressed a need for skilled workers in Kent, Allegan and Ottawa counties. The 13 companies that partner with GRCC in the program include boat and canvas manufacturers, seating, shoe manufacturers, logistics transportation sewing, and foam and furniture manufacturers.
“Helping people gain the skills they need to compete for jobs can transform lives and strengthen our economy,” said Richard Haslinger, western Michigan region head and managing director for Chase’s Commercial Bank. “We are encouraged by the results of the pilot program and want to expand its reach and impact throughout western Michigan.”
The first year of funding for the industrial sewing program resulted in a partnership between GRCC, Henry Ford College and the Detroit Garment Guild to form the Michigan Industrial sewing consortium, said Julie Parks, GRCC's executive director of Workforce Training and Tassell M-TEC.
The new grant will allow GRCC to add equipment so the industrial sewing program can serve more students. GRCC will also work with the Makers Coalition, Industrial Fabrics Association International and the Detroit Garment Group to align its curriculum with industry standards, serving employers on a national and international scale.
"This grant allows us to grow the program, making room for even more students to meet industry demand," Parks said.
GRCC will also use the JPMorgan Chase Foundation grant to create a logistics certification program. The logistics field employs a broad range of workers who plan and control the efficient flow of goods and services from the point of origin to the point of consumption.
GRCC Workforce Training and the business department will work on the plan to add national logistics and supply chain certifications and classes to the curriculum. Felix Pereiro, business department chair and head of the Meijer Center for Business Studies, said demand and salaries for supply chain management professionals have increased.
"In the global marketplace, effectiveness and efficiency in an organization’s supply chain are key success factors for building durable competitive advantage," he said. "According to a recent survey, the average salary for logistics director/manager professionals increased to $109,760 in 2014, and this industry will need to fill about 1.4 million jobs — or about 270,000 annually — by 2018."
GRCC will work with a team that includes logistics employers and workforce representatives to establish a clear employment pathway from entry-level positions to jobs requiring associate and bachelor's degrees.
"We are honored by JPMorgan Chase for again putting its trust in GRCC to meet employer needs in the industrial sewing and logistics sectors," Parks said. "This programming will provide individuals with skills — validated by state and national certifications — for West Michigan employers."
Grand Rapids Community College has been offering educational opportunities in West Michigan for 100 years. Established in 1914, the college offers degree courses, certification and training programs, and workshops and personal enrichment classes. Offerings are held on GRCC’s downtown Grand Rapids campus, and at several locations throughout Kent and Ottawa counties, as well as through distance learning.