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Published: Thursday, 10/22/2009

Jobs program to ease cost of training new hires


A state program being unwrapped Thursday seeks to lower at least one barrier that often prevents businesses from adding workers: the high cost of training them.

The Lucas County Workforce Development Agency will introduce Project HIRE, a program funded with federal stimulus dollars that will reimburse companies up to $6,000 to train new eligible employees. Details will be available to employers at 10 a.m. today in the Birch Room of the Hilton Hotel on the campus of the University of Toledo Medical Center, formerly the Medical College of Ohio.

Administered by the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, Project HIRE - Hometown Investments in Regional Economies - provides an incentive for businesses to hire dislocated workers, those laid-off from other firms, said Michael Veh, Lucas County workforce development manager.

The funds can be used as a direct payment to a training facility, such as Owens Community College, for example, or as a direct payment to offset up to 50 percent of wages, up to $6,000, as the employee is being trained on the job, Mr. Veh said.

"This is an incentive for businesses to hire people who may not have all the skills they need for that job, but who have the work ethic and everything else they need to get them to where the company needs them to be," Mr. Veh said.

Though northwest Ohio has high jobless rates, Mr. Veh said he has witnessed an uptick in recent weeks in the number of companies looking to hire employees.

"The number of companies hiring are actually getting better," Mr. Veh said. "Is it huge? No, not yet. But it is getting better."

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