Gov. Evers announces projects receiving about $60M to address state's workforce challenges

NOW: Gov. Evers announces projects receiving about $60M to address state’s workforce challenges

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KENOSHA, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Governor Tony Evers announced a dozen new projects across the state that will receive up to $59.5 million to address long-term workforce issues as employers continue to try to bounce back from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as pre-pandemic problems with finding workers.

The funding comes from $100 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act dollars Gov. Evers directed towards the Workforce Innovation Grant Program earlier this year.

"We have to recognize that there is not a one-size-fits-all solution to meeting the workforce challenges that our communities have," Evers said at a news conference at Gateway Technical College's Horizon Center.

Wisconsin's unemployment rate sits at 3.2 percent, below the national average of 4.6 percent. The current rate is also a return to the state's pre-pandemic level when it was at 3.2 percent in March of 2020.

The projects are regional, with several impacting southeastern Wisconsin.

That includes up to $5.6 million for Gateway Technical College's talent optimization program, up to $990,000 for the city of Kenosha for an entrepreneur skilling program and up to $3.3 million for the Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Milwaukee.

"This historic investment that we're announcing today will connect previously underserved communities and the underemployed with new job opportunities," said Department of Workforce Development Secretary-designee Amy Pechacek.

While the projects are aimed at long-term solutions, Evers said he believes they will have an immediate impact.

"It's long-term in that it's sustainable," Evers said. "These are great ideas that we can continue on, going forward with different groups of people, but there are folks who are out there right now who I know this will help get them in the workforce and continue our recovery."

Evers added more could be done at the federal level to address workforce shortages, including with immigration policy.

"If at some point in time, we as a nation get to kind of figuring out the immigration issues here in the state of Wisconsin, we would all, the entire country would be thankful for that," Evers said.

A second round of projects is expected to be announced in 2022.

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