Cosmolab gets training grant

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

NASHVILLE - The cosmetics factory in Lewisburg has been awarded a $49,177 state grant to help pay for employee retraining because of new equipment and production of new products next year.

Cosmolab's grant was one of 13 grants totaling $381,562 as announced by Gov. Phil Bredesen and Labor Commissioner James Neeley on Friday. Financial viability and payment of all state taxes are among the requirements for the grants.

"Funding priority is given to businesses whose grant proposals represent a significant layoff avoidance strategy and represent a significant upgrade of skills," according to Milissa Reierson, spokeswoman for the Labor Department.

"We got it because of new technology we're getting into," Cosmolab Human Resources Director Donna King said Monday. "We'll begin training next year."

The job training grants help employers toward training their employees so they'll have new skills and needed at the plant on Garrett Parkway because of new manufacturing techniques for new products.

"It deals with the ingredients, machinery and processes that deal with the chemistry of the new product," King said, deliberately being vague to protect the company's production methods.

So, what are the new products?

"Can't say;" King replied, "New products that we plan to introduce."

Toward that end, Cosmolab will "have to buy equipment and train employees in how to use it and manufacture our new products," she said. "The training time varies between the different projects that we have.

"I'm trying to get this set up and coordinated," King said.

Other businesses to receive job-training grants like Cosmolab's include Smelter Service Corp. in Mt. Pleasant. Its assistance will be $25,000.

"With the current economy, job training is essential to keep employees and companies competitive," Gov. Bredesen said. "Our goal is to keep jobs in Tennessee and upgrade the skills of our workers."

Commissioner Neeley said, "Incumbent Worker Grants are an invaluable tool to aid Tennesee's economy. "I am pleased to award these grants to Cosmolab and Smelter Service Corp."

Marshall County's delegation to the General Assembly agreed.

"I commend the Labor Department for awarding the Incumbent Worker Grants," Sen. Bill Ketron said. State Rep. Eddie Bass said, "These grants are great for local communities and the state."

Cosmolab's plan here is one of two. The other is in California.

Cosmolab here makes a wide variety of color cosmetics. That includes eyeliner, lip liners, other kinds of lip and eye products including lipstick, eye shadow, some face foundation and cheek color, virtually anything that deals with color on the face.

The plant here now has about 600 workers, including temporary hires, King said. Of those, about 400 are regular full time employees. Very few are part-time employees.

"We'll bring in temps for two weeks" when the workload increases as it has recently.

"It's pretty high now because we've got a lot of things to ship out," the HR director said.

Other companies in this area that were named as receiving job training grants include:

* Frito-Lay Inc. in Pulaski where the grant is for $7,500. It's to assist 53 employees with warehouse performance and adverse driving training.

* GrafTech International Ltd. in Lawrenceburg where 60 employees will get team training through a $25,000 grant.

* Nyrstar Clarksville Inc., and Jackson Kayak Inc. are two more of the 13 companies named by the state Friday.

The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development administers the Incumbent Worker Training Program. Beyond financial viability and payment of taxes, other criteria for the grants include employment of at least five full-time employees and being in operation in Tennessee for at least a year before applying for such assistance.