TROY (WWJ) — Automation Alley, Michigan’s largest technology business association, has extended the Technical Talent Development Program’s Challenge Fund application deadline to Jan. 10.

In its second round, the $1 million Challenge Fund has been set up to provide funding specifically for Automation Alley’s nearly 1,000 member companies seeking to hire and train full-time, highly skilled and permanent workers.

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The TTDP is made possible through a $5 million grant awarded to Automation Alley by the U.S. Department of Labor, Employment and Training Administration in 2012. The Challenge Fund portion of the grant provides companies with funding to assist in meeting immediate training needs in specific areas of IT-related occupations. It is designed to assist employers of all sizes, from entrepreneurial startup firms to more established companies with IT needs.

The application, along with specific information and instructions, can be found at Look for the TTDP information in the Quick Links box on the homepage. To apply for the Challenge Fund, click on the link and follow the steps provided.

Employers are encouraged to submit applications that reflect comprehensive training funding needs. The submission deadline is 5 p.m. Eastern time Jan. 10.

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“We’ve extended the TTDP Challenge Fund application deadline so that every qualified employer has the opportunity to take full advantage of these funds,” said Alysia Green, Automation Alley’s director of talent development. “The Challenge Fund is a one-of-a-kind solution to the talent development problems facing Southeast Michigan’s tech companies, especially small and medium-size businesses.”

The TTDP Challenge Fund supports the growth and expansion of Southeast Michigan as a tech hub and has proven results. In its first round, the TTDP Challenge Fund saw 13 Southeast Michigan companies train and employ 305 workers.

Automation Alley applied for the TTDP grant in partnership with Oakland Community College and the Oakland County Michigan Works Workforce Development Division, with additional support provided by Sen. Debbie Stabenow, Sen. Carl Levin and the Michigan delegation.

Training supported by the Challenge Fund will be allocated to companies based on dollars awarded to provide skill upgrades for newly hired employees. Employee training will include industry-recognized vendor certifications. Training will be provided by local corporate training companies, workforce development organizations and educational institutions.

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For more information on the Challenge Fund, contact the Automation Alley Resource Center at (800) 427-5100 or