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Small Business Administration grant supports new skills program in Greensboro

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- A $25,000 Small Business Administration grant will help Forge Greensboro expand the Piedmont's workforce.

Joe Rotondi, executive director of Forge Greensboro, explained the makerspace already partners with area nonprofits to teach skills like welding, machining and computer-aided design. With the SBA grant, Forge Greensboro will be able to do even more.

"It's going to allow us at The Forge to take our workforce development to the next level," Rotondi said. "People coming out of our skills development program will be able to do a pre-apprenticeship program and stay with them longer."

By sticking with someone longer, The Forge will be able to point out other community resources and companies that are willing to help someone refine their craft.

"Greensboro has a huge network of small businesses in manufacturing," Rotondi said. "Our next step is connecting with them and partnering with them and getting them through the apprenticeship program."

Melanie Kertley is participating in The Forge skills boot camp. For three days she will learn skills that will help her reaffirm her commitment to landing a job in a male-dominated field.

"I am done playing games and doing things I don't want to do," Kertley said. "Now it's time to do what I really want to do, which is work with my hands. I like to make things."

Kertley said she likes the idea of a pre-apprenticeship program. She believes it's critical to gain additional training and experience if you want to become a professional welder or machinist.

Forge Greensboro will work with nonprofit workforce development organizations to begin its pre-apprenticeship program.

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