MN: New Flyer Receives $375,000 Grant to Train Employees to Make New Bus

Jan. 23--A delegation of state officials will be in St. Cloud on Friday for the formal signing of several grants under the Minnesota Job Skills Partnership program, and one of their stops will be at New Flyer Industries.

New Flyer has received a grant amount of $375,000 to work with the St. Cloud Technical & Community College. According to New Flyer spokesman Brent Brockman, it will be used to train employees on the skill set needed to produce a new line of medium-sized buses. The factory last year began a $4.9 million expansion to accommodate the line.

Katie Clark Sieben, commissioner of Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development, and Larry Pogemiller, commissioner of Minnesota Office of High Education, will join SCTCC representatives for grant-signing ceremonies and tours of three area businesses involved with the MJSP.

Those tours will include two Sauk Rapids-based businesses -- Talon, a machining and engineering company, and WFSI Inc., a critical welding and manufacturing company. Grants were previously announced for those companies in the amount of $275,000 and $300,000, respectively, to train current and new employees in specialized skills.

New Flyer has estimated it will add about 160 employees to handle the MiDi bus expansion. The MJSP grant will allow existing and new employees to produce the so-called MiDi bus, which has a low floor and is used for medium-duty transit and community shuttle services.

To maintain flexibility, everyone on the shop floor will be trained to work on either the MiDi line or the established heavy bus line. As of last year, when the expansion began, New Flyer employed more than 530 people in St. Cloud. All production job classifications will receive training to ensure everyone understands the entire system. A select group of employees will receive compressed natural gas fuel training to support the MiDi bus line.

SCTCC instructors will deliver the skills training, as it will with Talon and WFSI. According to John Hart, director of outreach for business and industry training solutions at SCTCC, some training has already started but 95 percent of the task remains. The grant is to cover a period until June 2016.

Copyright 2014 - St. Cloud Times, Minn.