Gov. Bobby Jindal announced Tuesday the first corporate donor to give matching funds for a program to help higher education institutions focus on programs that train workers.
JPMorgan Chase & Company is giving $1 million for the Louisiana Community and Technical Colleges to help it secure funding through the legislatively created WISE Fund.
The $40 million Workforce and Innovation for a Stronger Economy Fund was created earlier this year as a competitive funding pool for Louisiana’s colleges and universities meant to encourage workforce development and partnerships with local businesses.
Nearly $12 million of the state money can only be secured when schools find a private business partner to put up a 20 percent match. The $1 million Chase donation will be matched with $4 million in state dollars.
“That means $5 million to help train our community and technical college students in Louisiana,” Jindal said. “This is the first (corporate contribution) but it won’t be the last.”
More than $80 billion of large-scale energy construction projects are scheduled for Louisiana over the next five years.
“If we don’t train enough skilled workers, if we don’t meet the workforce needs of these companies … we won’t be able to sustain this great economic momentum,” Jindal said.
The WISE funding mechanism gives incentives for business and higher education to coordinate curricula to meet the training needs of the companies.
“For too many years our schools would train graduates disconnected for the actual needs of actual economy for actual employers,” Jindal said.
“As I travel around the state to meet with business leaders workforce,” said John Kallenborn, president of JPMorgan Chase in Louisiana, “the skills gap is the No. 1 issue.”
The Chase grant is part of the international bank’s New Skills at Work initiative. Chase has 156 branches, 1 million customers and 3,400 employees in Louisiana.
“Our grant is not targeted to accounting and traditional banking-type programs. It is more oriented to welders and the construction industry,” Kallenborn said.
Monty Sullivan, president of the Louisiana Community and Technical College System, said the money would be distributed to the 13 institutions that are part of the LCTCS. The money will be used to hire faculty, expand the programs to allow more students, buy equipment and other steps.
“It will allow us to double the productivity of those programs,” Sullivan said, adding that none of the money would be used to construct or renovate buildings.
The state Board of Regents, which oversees the allocation of the WISE Fund dollars, recently signed off on a distribution plan that, on top of setting aside $11.9 million for the community college system, would mean $14.3 million for colleges in the LSU System, $11.5 million to the University of Louisiana System and $2 million to the Southern University System.
For more coverage of the Louisiana Legislature, follow our Politics blog at http://blogs.theadvocate.com/politicsblog .