*This story was featured in the June 29 edition of the Hastings Tribune.
A Hebron-based manufacturer was among 2016 grant recipients for the Nebraska Developing Youth Talent Initiative.
Governor Pete Ricketts announced Monday that MetalQuest of Hebron and Distefano Technology & Mfg. (Distefano) of Omaha are grant recipients this year.
The program, which Ricketts proposed in January of 2015, connects young Nebraskans to careers in the manufacturing and technology sectors.
MetalQuest, a manufacturing company based in Hebron, which has partnered with the Manufacturing Career Pathway Program at South Central Nebraska Unified School District, anticipates this grant will open doors for a number of students.
“MetalQuest is thrilled to be the recipient of a Nebraska Developing Youth Talent Grant,” Scott Volk, Vice President of MetalQuest, said in receiving the grant. “This grant will have a direct impact, exposing area students in grades 6-12 to exciting and challenging manufacturing careers.”
For students at the South Central school districts of Sandy Creek and Lawrence-Nelson, the DYTI grant will provide students a chance at real world experience through project-based learning strategies and is expected to assist with the growth of the manufacturing talent pool. MetalQuest, in conjunction with the South Central Unified School District, plans to support and offer the Career Pathway Program, which will place an emphasis in manufacturing to students in grades 6-12.
Students in grades 6-8 will have the opportunity to enroll in exploratory courses in manufacturing while under the supervision of a college-level instructor. These classes are designed to allow students interested in a manufacturing career path to learn about project development at the Ninth and 10th grade level.
Last year, Governor Ricketts and DED awarded the grant to Flowserve in Hastings, and Hollman Media, LLC, of Kearney for the 2015-16 school year.
Through this grant, DED is providing upwards of $125,000 in financial assistance to both MetalQuest and Distefano for the 2016-17 school year.
“Congratulations to MetalQuest and Distefano on receiving the 2016 grants to support their efforts to expose young Nebraskans to careers in manufacturing and IT,” Governor Ricketts said. “Public-private partnerships like these are setting the bar when it comes with working with their communities and schools to connect youth with career paths with good-paying jobs.”
During the press conference Ricketts applauded both recipients for applications that demonstrated strong collaboration with areas schools in creating plans to actively address workforce needs of industries in south central Nebraska and the greater Omaha area.
The manufacturing industry is identified as Nebraska’s second largest industry and this grant is expected to create jobs, connect companies with highly skilled employees and promote awareness of the industry’s growing workforce needs.
“This program is helping us increase awareness among our younger students about the many excellent careers that exist for them,” said Nebraska Department of Economic Development (DED) Director Courtney Dentlinger.
In 2015, Governor Ricketts proposed DYTI in response to spikes in innovation in the information technology and manufacturing sectors. In order to qualify for the DYTI grant, businesses must be in the manufacturing sector or in need of high-skill information technology professionals and must partner with schools to increase participation in hands-on career exploration and workplace learning opportunities, starting with students in the seventh and eighth grades.