The North Carolina Department of Commerce has awarded four special workforce training grants totaling more than $1.6 million to North Carolina nonprofit organizations, Governor Roy Cooper announced today. Federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds are supporting this state initiative, called the “ARPA Business Work-Based Learning Grant” program.
“Helping businesses train their workers and strengthen their pipeline of talent is critical to meeting the needs of our changing economy,” Governor Cooper said. “Workforce investments like these grants will support not only the small businesses that are so important to our communities, but also the diverse North Carolinians who will be able to succeed in good jobs at these companies.”
Those awarded grants include:
- North Carolina Restaurant & Lodging Association (NCRLA) Foundation: A $1 million grant will provide wage reimbursements and wrap-around services for trainees, to complement a hospitality workforce training program supported by other grant funds. While the grant can serve the entire state, the NCRLA Foundation will prioritize outreach efforts to businesses located in North Carolina’s rural and underserved Tier 1 and Tier 2 counties as well as Historically Underutilized Business (HUB)-certified and minority/female/veteran-owned businesses.
- Carolinas Associated General Contractors (CAGC) Foundation (serving Alamance, Forsyth and Guilford counties): A $350,000 grant will help CAGC develop a training and work-based learning program in skilled trades related to construction. The program will include placing “construction bootcamp” trainees in temporary positions with small construction businesses, while also supporting minority-owned, women-owned and disadvantaged businesses in a “business academy” program to expand their capacity and their talent pipeline.
- AB Community, d/b/a Knox St. Studios (serving Forsyth and Guilford counties): A $300,000 grant will provide work-based learning and leadership/entrepreneurship training opportunities to small businesses in underserved communities. On their program, Knox St. Studios will partner with RTriad, an information technology services and training company, and Access Center for Equity & Success, another nonprofit organization focused on the construction industry.
- Cloth and Surf for Youth (serving Scotland, Duplin and Dare counties): A $10,000 grant will support a partnership with one or more small Historically Underutilized Businesses in the aviation services industry to provide training that leads to a federally-required aviation certification.
“One strategy in our First in Talent economic development plan is to bolster a robust small business recovery in a way that includes rural communities, as well as women- and minority-owned firms,” said N.C. Commerce Secretary Machelle Baker Sanders. “That’s exactly what these innovative grants aim to do. Our Division of Workforce Solutions and our local workforce development boards are eager to assist and to collaborate with the organizations receiving grants, to help small businesses meet their talent needs through work-based learning, in important fields like hospitality, construction and aviation.”
The source of funding for these grants is the State Fiscal Recovery Fund (SFRF), a component of the American Rescue Plan Act which provided $5.4 billion to North Carolina to help turn the tide on the pandemic, address its economic fallout, and lay the foundation for a strong and equitable recovery. The N.C. General Assembly appropriated the SFRF in the 2021 Appropriations Act (Session Law 2021-180).
In November 2022, the Department of Commerce awarded grants to 11 local workforce development boards from the same funding source.