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Allband Communications Trains 3 Thanks to Grants from Michigan Works!

Allband Communications Cooperative’s primary mission is providing affordable and advanced telephone, 911 and broadband services to residents in Northeastern Michigan who do not have access to advanced telecommunications offered in neighboring more populated cities or other urban areas. Allband has focused its attention on project development that will allow low-income households, welfare recipients and struggling businesses the ability to utilize broadband fiber access to pursue new careers, opportunities and applications that will speed Michigan’s economic recovery. Allband’s unique ability to build high-speed networks in rural areas has given our community a new tool to address its economic hardships.

Allband has long struggled with the recruitment of skilled workers and/or the retainment of employees after they are trained. Attracting skilled talent to our region who are specific to our industry can be a challenge and past attempts to recruit people to the area have resulted in quick departures. Past attempts to train local employees with our unique skill sets have also been a letdown as people often move on after a while for more money and better benefits. Since Allband is located in an extremely rural “blue collar” region, it can be a challenge recruiting people to relocate here as a tech-centric workforce seems to prefer more populated urban areas. Offering the benefits and compensation to attract said skilled workers is also a challenge as Allband is more often than not navigating the financial obstacles that come bundled with our unique rural business model. Recently, Allband has also had to navigate the loss of two senior technicians who took several years of experience and knowledge with them, leaving the Cooperative with several partially trained staff in the field of fiber optic outside plant construction and administration. An ill-timed issue given the recent spike in demand for broadband in rural areas post COVID-19.

Michigan Works! Northeast Consortium was able to provide Incumbent Worker Training to train 3 Allband employees in an intensive 3-day training. Allband reports the ability to obtain grant subsidies from Michigan Works was a blessing.

General Manager, Ron Siegal states, “Allband Communications recently received financial support from the Michigan Works! Incumbent Worker Training Program and I cannot say enough about the positive experience we have had with the Northeast Consortium staff. They were patient, helpful, supportive, knowledgeable and genuinely cared about the success of our cooperative and the career development of our staff. As a rural telephone and broadband provider, cash flow is always a challenge, so the funding we received was critical as it allowed us to secure the onsite training our technicians needed to improve their skills, earn a better wage and higher locally. The application process was smooth and the MW! staff kept us in the loop in terms of needed material and deadlines, and the training went better than expected!”

"After researching the best way to train our outside plant staff, it was obvious that it would cost a considerable amount of money to bring trainers to Curran, MI where we are located. It is common for companies to send their techs away for training as it is less expensive, but due to our size and unique methodologies, it made more sense to bring the trainers here so they could customize the curriculum around our specific needs and with the same equipment we use every day. Helping with the cost of the training was a tremendous help to us, as we are now able to re-direct the training savings to improved equipment, tools and upgrades for the technicians (which was recommended by the trainers) and has also allowed us to absorb the expense of much-needed wage increases while we are operating during our “slow season” when revenues decrease overall. Overall, the training program has enhanced our efforts to higher locally, improve compensation/benefits and ultimately retain skilled workers."

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