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    Allendale Chamber Announces Two New Scholarships Focused on Supporting Skilled Trades Training

    The Allendale Area Chamber of Commerce is pleased to introduce two new scholarships this year focused on supporting the advancement of skilled trades training. The Skilled Trades Scholarship and Constructive Sheet Metal Inc. Scholarship each offer $500 to assist an Allendale area high school senior who will be pursuing their post-secondary education in the fall following high school graduation. Both scholarships were created through the generous financial support of the manufacturing/industrial businesses in Allendale. 

    For eleven years, the Allendale Chamber has offered a $500 scholarship to students going to Grand Valley State University in the fall following high school graduation. The Chamber’s partnership with GVSU and commitment to college education remains strong however there is another area of education that is vital to our workforce as well, skilled trades training. 

    The discussions taking place at the Allendale Manufacturing/Industry Roundtable meetings during the last two years has centered on overcoming the skilled labor challenge many employers face. As a business membership organization invested in making sure employers have the resources they need to succeed, it became clear that the Chamber needed take action to support and encourage skilled trades training now and into the future. 

    That’s when Executive Director Janessa Smit pitched the idea to local business leaders to expand the scholarship offerings to include two year degrees and certifications as well. “All of these skill sets are needed in our economy and as a business organization, we should be supporting technical training,” shared Smit. Before fundraising, the Allendale Chamber reached out to school counselors and advisors at the Careerline Tech Center to make sure the scholarships would add value. Jason Fogel, counselor at Allendale High School responded, “This is awesome. There are very few skilled trade scholarships.” 

    Businesses immediately responded to the request to help launch the Skilled Trades Scholarship with donations. Jessie Larabel, Vice President of Polymer Protective Packaging was one of the first businesses who stepped up to make the scholarship a reality sharing that, “Polymer Packaging cares about its community and the growth of Michigan manufacturing.” 

    The initial support from the businesses was motivating to Chamber staff and then to add to the momentum, leadership at Constructive Sheet Metal Inc. responded to the scholarship donation request in a big way. The newly relocated Allendale metal fabricating company asked if they could pledge an additional $500 to create another scholarship. “We were just blown away,” said Smit followed by “Yes! Let’s make it happen!”  “Since 1958 our company has been servicing our customer’s metal needs with quality fabrication workmanship. If we want to continue that tradition for another 50 years, we have to invest in the future of our trade,” said representatives from Constructive Sheet Metal Inc.  

    “While the scholarships may be small to start out, it sends a message that the Allendale business community supports training for every profession,” said Rence Meredith, Allendale Chamber Board of Directors President. Meredith is the facilities maintenance supervisor at Grand Valley State University and has also experienced the challenge of finding employees with the training needed to fill vital roles at the University. “Our campus depends on every type of expertise you can think of from HVAC, electrical engineers, construction to public safety, plumbing and academia, GVSU needs every type of skill set out there to keep us operating at full speed.”  

    The three scholarship applications; GVSU, Skilled Trades and Constructive Sheet Metal Inc., are posted on the Allendale Chamber website here: http://www.allendalechamber.org/aacc-scholarship. The deadline for submission is March 31, 2019. 

    Business leaders from the Allendale community will serve on the committees to review the applications and determine recipients which will be announced in May at school honor convocation ceremonies. A “foot golf” Skilled Trade Scholarship fundraiser is being planned for Friday, May 17 at Pigeon Creek Golf Course for future scholarships. To securley donate to the Allendale Chamber Skilled Trade Scholarship fund go to http://allendalechamber.chambermaster.com/store/aacc-skilled-trade-scholarship. 
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