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Associated Industries launches scholarship

Program aims to keep workers in the area

Spokane-based Associated Industries has launched a college scholarship program to help keep talented and well-trained workers in the community.

The scholarship is the Associated Industries Bright Promise program. The scholarship fund has raised more than $100,000 and will grow over time, said Jim DeWalt, Associated Industries’ president and CEO.

DeWalt and other officials announced the program at a recent open house for Associated Industries’ new office at 1206 N. Lincoln St.

“Our program was conceived to ensure that local industry will continue to attract its fair share of top talent to drive and sustain future community growth by providing at least $25,000 per year in scholarships with the potential for that investment to increase with the addition of several partners,” DeWalt said.

Too often, he said, employers hear young workers say they have to leave Spokane to find good jobs. He hopes this program helps push employers to boost efforts to create jobs for those graduates.

A private foundation will manage the guidelines for the scholarships. The first group of scholarships will be awarded for fall of 2009. Students will need to enroll for a certificate or degree through Community Colleges of Spokane and to continue studies at Eastern Washington University.

After DeWalt announced the program, two firms – United HealthCare and Wells Fargo – agreed to match the $25,000 for the first year of scholarships. Two other firms who are members of Associated Industries, Moranco and Inland Insurance, each pledged $2,000 for the first year of the program, said DeWalt.

Associated Industries has nearly 700 members across Washington, North Idaho and Montana. The company provides business services, including legal, accounting and payroll management.