Jacob Maas
Jacob Maas, CEO, West Michigan Works!

As it stands now, Michigan’s 2020 budget does not include funding for the Going PRO Talent Fund. The fund has provided critical support for employers who are in the midst of a skilled labor shortage and who are facing a projected workforce gap of over 500,000 by 2026.

Since the program began in 2014, nearly $100 million has been awarded to more than 3,000 businesses across the state, resulting in the retention of 72,542 jobs. Last year alone, 223 West Michigan employers were able to train 2,423 existing workers and 4,447 new hires with Going PRO awards totaling $9.5 million.

The Going PRO Talent Fund Is Working

The Going PRO Talent Fund is meeting a real need in Michigan. Now is not the time to pull the plug.

The state’s workforce arm went to great lengths to create a program that provides flexibility, uses funds effectively and delivers a substantial ROI:

  • Applications are funded based on demonstrated need and the merits of the training plans— customized training programs, created in partnership with local community colleges and training institutions, that address their specific training needs.
  • Employers are required to invest in the program. Between employer cash, in-kind contributions, and other funding streams, $60 million was leveraged last year for workforce training.
  • The training must lead to a transferable, industry-recognized credential. This ensures that the fund is creating a skilled workforce that benefits the entire state.

The Impact of Going PRO

Employers in West Michigan have consistently received over 20% of the state’s available funds. That has translated into thousands of workers receiving skills for today’s high-demand jobs; employers being able grow their businesses and compete on a local, national and global scale; and economic prosperity for West Michigan.

FY16 FY17 FY18 FY19
Awards 74
(20% of state total)
(26% of state total)
(23% of state total)
(27% of state total)
Amount Awarded $3.1 M
(25% of state total)
$5.1 M
(28% of state total)
$8.4 M
(28% of state total)
$9.5 M
(32% of state total)
Workers Trained 968 1,410 2,640 2,423
Apprenticeships 129 218 378 219
New Hires 1,366 2,612 4,055 4,447

There are 368 West Michigan employers (179 who have never applied before) who have submitted requests for Going PRO funds totaling $15 million. Lack of funding will jeopardize their ability to invest in their workforce and in the economic well-being of our region.

What You Can Do

Fortunately, there are many supporters who continue to push for inclusion in the 2020 budget – employers, chambers, economic developers and legislators. Supplemental bills have been submitted by both the House and Senate; Senate Bill 752, introduced by Sen. Ken Horn, R-Frankenmuth, and House Bill 5441, introduced by Rep. Mark Huizenga, R-Walker, appropriating $36.5 million to the Talent Fund. We are grateful to Senator Horn and Representative Huizenga for their leadership on this issue.

Please join us in reaching out to the Governor’s administration and legislators in the seven-county region (Allegan, Barry, Ionia, Kent, Montcalm, Muskegon and Ottawa) to  support workforce training and funding of the Going PRO Talent Fund in the 2020 budget.


Jacob Maas, CEO
West Michigan Works!