$524K state grant promotes Cheney Brothers new hires


July 02, 2018

By Kayla Gleason, Staff Writer, Charlotte Sun

Florida SouthWestern State College and Cheney Brothers Inc. have partnered together to receive a $524,000 grant.

The grant, part of FSW’s Quick Response Training program, is funded through the Florida Economic Development Office and helps growing companies hire and train new employees.

“We have a lot of young employees with Cheney Brothers, so the grant helps us give them the extra training they need,” said Punta Gorda Cheney Brothers president Shane Simmons. “The lengthy training programs often cost a lot of money but, this way, we get to invest in new employees.”

According to an FSW press release, the program will train up to 330 new hires.

“The very essence of FSW is our ability to work with local and regional businesses to help them train the employees they need. Our degrees and certifications are all workforce-directed for that reason,” said Dr. Robert R. Jones, FSW’s vice president of economic development and external affairs. “We take that to a new level by working with the Florida Economic Development Office and administering these Quick Response Training (QRT) grants so that we can further assist businesses with training the professionals they need.”

With the grant, Cheney Brothers hopes to continue to benefit Charlotte County by providing hundreds of job opportunities to the area.

 “We are deeply committed to being a vital part of the communities we serve. Our employees work here, live here and raise families here,” Simmons said.

When awarding the grants, FSW seeks out businesses with great local economic potential.

“These new employees are not only working in our region, but also contributing to our economy and tax base. Better trained employees mean they have higher skill levels, and can then earn higher wages,” said Jones. “Since 2013, FSW has secured over $12 million in QRT funding to train over 6,800 new hires.”

The extra funding will also help make training more convenient for employees. They do not have to attend FSW or take time away from work, all of the programs will be offered on-site at the food distributor’s Punta Gorda location.

“Basically, this gives us the money to pay FSW to come over here and teach the courses. They give us a list of available programs and we pick and choose based on what we need at the time,” Simmons said.

Training ranges from management courses to respect in the workplace to more technical skills like safe machinery operation, according to Simmons.

This is Cheney Brothers’ second year of participating in the program and they hope to re-apply for the grant — one award is good for 12 months — in coming years.

“The last grant we were awarded, we exceeded expectations,” said Simmons. “This is definitely a program we hope we can continue offering. We expect it to continue doing really well.”

For more information on Cheney Brothers, visit at www.cheneybrothers.com