By PAUL GIANNAMORE
STEUBENVILLE, Ohio - AEP Ohio is making money available to train workers for several specific industries identified by the Ohio Department of Development as potential areas of employment for the future.
The Putting Ohioans to Work for Economic Recovery grant program involves a $500,000 pool that will be awarded in grants up to $100,000 through boards of county commissioners. The grant program will be a competitive system that will be scored by three college professors from universities in Ohio, with the top-ranked applications receiving funding, said Paul Prater, community affairs manager for AEP Ohio's territory that includes Jefferson, Harrison, Belmont, Carroll and other regional counties.
Prater said a total of 60 counties in AEP Ohio's service territory may apply to compete for the grants. Not all applications will receive grant awards.
"We're hoping for multiple programs funded throughout the state," said Prater. All $500,000 will be awarded, he said. The program allows counties to join with other counties, as well as community colleges and county departments of job and family services to create training programs and seek the grants.
AEP issued a request for grant proposals Aug. 3 and has set a Sept. 3 deadline to apply. Awards are to be made Oct. 4 with work on the projects to begin Oct. 11. An independent panel of college professors will rank the applications. AEP's information about the program said ranking will include scoring based on project readiness and need, budget and financial plan, economic impact to AEP Ohio customers and communities, innovation and collaboration, with bonus points for energy related and green jobs as well as projects that would target women and minorities.
AEP is making the money available under its Partnership with Ohio, which is part of its electric security plan filed with the state in 2008. The partnership sets aside AEP money to support programs for customers and communities, including initiatives for low-income customers and economic development.
The work force grants will target Ohioans who are at or below 200 percent of the current federal poverty level. Under the guidelines, a single person earning up to about $21,000 or a person in a family of four earning about $44,000 a year could qualify for assistance.
Industries targeted by the Ohio Department of Development in its statewide strategic plan include:
Advanced energy and environmental technologies.
Aerospace and aviation.
Agriculture and food processing.
Biosciences and bioproducts.
Corporate and professional services.
Distribution and logistics.
Instruments, controls and electronics.
Motor vehicle and parts manufacturing.
Polymers and advanced materials.
AEP's grant program will require up to a 25 percent match, which also allows for in-kind commitments, which must be included in proposed budgets to be submitted as part of the grant application.
The money is for new work force training, not for existing programs, according to AEP Ohio's application packet.
Prater noted the grant program is one initiative of many undertaken by AEP Ohio to help train workers to meet the needs of the tough job market.
Recently, AEP Ohio awarded $25,000 grants to Eastern Gateway Community College and to Belmont Technical College for scholarships for people up to 200 percent above the federal poverty guidelines.
"It's all part of what we are trying to do as a company to help," said Prater.
(Giannamore can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.)