Workers retrained through program

Posted: July 25, 2013

The Winchester Star

WINCHESTER — Three dozen workers at a Winchester distribution and processing plant were recently retrained through a state program.

Winchester Metals, located at 195 Ebert Road, was chosen to take part in the Virginia Jobs Investment Program, managed by the state Department of Business Assistance.

Thirty-seven employees were trained on a new operating software system, general manager Josh Phelps said Wednesday.

“It’s everything from order entry, to inventory control, to accounting,” he said. “It encompasses the entire operation from start to finish. Everybody had to relearn how to do their job.”

Winchester Metals is a metals distribution and processing business. Phelps said it had outgrown its old software, which was 13 or 14 years old, but the cost of the upgrade was daunting.

He said the new software system has been up and running since July 8.

“This is our third full week and we’re fully operational,” Phelps said.

The Virginia Jobs Investment Program’s Workforce Retraining Program supports businesses that are trying to upgrade their current employees’ skills, according to a news release from the Winchester-Frederick County Economic Development Commission.

Selected companies must have 250 or fewer employees, be retraining at least five full-time workers, investing at least $50,000 in new capital and paying their workers a minimum of $9.79 an hour, the release states.

It says some larger businesses can get retraining help from the jobs program, too.

The program provided about $20,000 in funding to Winchester Metals, according to EDC Executive Director Patrick Barker.

“VJIP is probably one of the most utilized incentive-assistance programs that the state offers,” he said. “It was one of those upgrades [Winchester Metals] had to do. If they could do it earlier, obviously that’s better for them.”

The program has assisted 22 Winchester and Frederick County businesses, helping to add 831 full-time jobs and retraining nearly 1,500 current employees during the past three years, according to the release. To that end, more than $1.3 million has been allocated to those projects.

Phelps learned about the opportunity through his affiliation with the EDC. He is the chairman of its board of directors.

— Contact Sally Voth at svoth@winchesterstar.com