$9.8 million grant aims to melt down welder shortage

$9.8 million grant aims to melt down welder shortage
Published: Jun. 23, 2022 at 5:25 PM CDT
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SUPERIOR, WI. (KBJR) - A multi-million dollar grant looks to relieve the welder shortage in Wisconsin.

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation gave $9.8 million to Northwood Technical College for new housing for welders as well as training equipment.

The grant will give funding for housing projects in places like Ashland, Bayfield, Douglas and Sawyer counties.

The President of Northwood Technical College, John Will, said the application process was competitive.

“We thought we could come up with a solution that tackles two of the region’s problems: training and workforce housing,” Said Will. “And do something really innovative, and thankfully the people at the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation agreed and we were a successful applicant.”

Around $4 million will go towards equipment to train welders.

Northwood Technical College, which has campuses in Superior, Ashland and Rice Lake, is putting together a Mobile Welding Lab that will travel to students across Wisconsin.

The lab can hold up to eight students at a time, training them on their own individual welding stations.

Cenovus donated $50,000 to the school and Enbridge donated $40,000 to build the lab.

Both Cenovus and Enbridge hire high numbers of manufacture worker, especially welders.

Chris Fortenberry, the General Manager of Cenovus wants to keep welders local because he said they understand the community more.

“You get a higher level of commitment and ownership when people come here to do this job locally,” Fortenberry said.

The Mobile Welding Lab is in the early stages of development.

Northwood Tech hopes to have it up and running by this winter.

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