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Labor Dept. Offers
Special Program

By Jeanne Sager
MONTICELLO — February 14, 2006 – What kind of business says no to free money?
Any business in Sullivan County – as long as they have at least four employees and a need for training – is being handed a shot at a $15 million well of grants from the NYS Department of Labor.
All they have to do is apply.
And later this month, they’ll have the chance to walk through the program step by step with the second-in-command at the Department of Labor.
Deputy Commissioner Margaret Moree is coming to Sullivan County February 22 to promote BUSINYS (Building Skills in New York State), a program that promises up to $50,000 per New York business for employee training.
And after all, what business couldn’t use more training, asks Joyce Salimeno, president of Gersten Hillman Insurance Company in Monticello.
Longtime head of the workforce development board in Sullivan County, Salimeno heard about BUSINYS several years ago.
She checked around to make sure there’d be no conflict of interest, then she applied for funding.
With software updates coming down the pike for her company, she wanted her agents to be at the top of their game.
She was awarded $8,175 from the state to bring in an expert, allowing her to provide 13 employees with up-to-date training right on site in Monticello.
In the end, the software company Salimeno works with wasn’t ready in the six-month window the state provided for using the funding.
So she bid the project out, and it came down to using a consultant from either Sullivan County Community College (SCCC) or Sullivan County BOCES.
She spent $5,625 in grant monies, and it all stayed right in the county.
“The training we got for $5,600 was absolutely wonderful,” she recalled. “For us it was how to use our system better, you know, little shortcuts.
“It was a tremendous benefit.”
Now the state’s offering a second go-round for businesses to apply for training grants, and Salimeno is leading the call to get business owners out to Moree’s seminar on February 22 in Monticello.
The deputy commissioner’s visit is being sponsored by the Department of Labor in conjunction with the Sullivan County Chamber of Commerce, SCCC, the Sullivan County Partnership and the Center for Workforce Development.
Ron Stonitsch, an employer services representative in Sullivan and Ulster counties with the Department of Labor, said the goal is to get as many people in those seats as possible.
“There’s a significant amount of money here,” he said. “I want my employers here in Sullivan to get a piece of this pie, to take advantage of this.
“Quite often, I visit a business, and they say, ‘Oh, I didn’t even know about it.’”
Even more often, Stonitsch said he sees employers making the choice to forego training because it’s just too expensive.
But there’s money available – and it’s available to any business in any line of work, from cleaning services to landscapers, he said.
The grant application can be completed on-line, and Stonitsch admits it’s “not the easiest thing to write.”
“It takes some time,” he said. “But where else can you get a payback like this?”
Salimeno’s advice? Print the application out. Fill it out, step by step. Use a pencil if you need to.
Then go back to the computer and punch in the information you’ve gathered.
“People shouldn’t be intimidated,” she said. “It’s certainly worthwhile; the money that we got really made a difference.”
The seminar is set for Wednesday, February 22, from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the Legislative Hearing Room on the second floor of the government center in Monticello.
Registration is required, and Stonitsch needs to know who will be attending by Friday, February 17.
Business owners who cannot attend are still eligible to apply.
For information, visit the Department of Labor BUSINYS Web-site, partners/rfa37-l/rfa37-l.htm or call Ron Stonitsch at 331-8920, ext. 3004.
The Center for Workforce Development in Monticello is also a resource, and representatives can help with the grant process.
The office is located at 63 Liberty Street in Monticello. For information, call them at 791-8500, ext. 205.
Applications for the grant are available on the Web.

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