Area Development
{{RELATEDLINKS}} Today’s innovative companies require highly skilled workers — a need that cannot be overstated. Kentucky is among those states that have focused their efforts on supplying the workforce that current and future companies need.

The key has been to eliminate the bureaucracy and, in its place, offer personalized services depending on the needs of the individual company. To accomplish this, Governor Steve Beshear announced the creation of the Kentucky Skills Network. The network combines the efforts of several state government and educational institutions to provide one-stop workforce services and resources for new and existing employers. This includes customized recruitment and training solutions, as well as implementation assistance. Qualifying Kentucky companies are eligible for recruitment and job-screening services at no cost. Additionally, fl exible grant funding is available to offset the costs of customized and in-house training needs and to establish apprenticeship programs and to provide free safety and OSHA training. State tax credits are also available for approved training programs for existing employees of qualifying companies. Last year alone, training was provided for more than 83,000 Kentuckians in fi elds including manufacturing, healthcare, information technology, energy, distribution, and research and development.

An Automotive Success Story
One of the most popular and effective tools used through the Kentucky Skills Network involves grants and tax credits. One company that benefi ted from a grant was INOAC, a Tier II supplier of instrument panels to Ford and Toyota — two companies that contribute to Kentucky ranking third in the nation in automotive production.

In 2009, INOAC needed to train its workforce in new production processes. The supplier formed a partnership with the Springfi eld-Washington County Economic Development Authority, the Kentucky Community and Technical College System, and the Kentucky Cabinet for Economic Development. The Kentucky Skills Network provided INOAC no-cost recruitment services and awarded the company a $160,000 grant to offset the cost of two years of employee on-the-job training. INOAC was also able to secure additional training assistance from the local community and technical college. As a result, INOAC was able to grow its Springfi eld workforce from 180 four years ago to 330 today.

According to Kurt Krug, vice president of North American Human Resources for INOAC, business leaders are sometimes unaware of how government agencies can help, or they may fear red tape and rejection, but he’s impressed with Kentucky’s team approach. He notes, “Kentucky is doing some very good, creative things…the way I see it, everyone benefi ts. It’s a true partnership.”