Owner Richard Doyle and his staff of six at Bryce & Doyle, in Rochester, N.Y., have been learning how to improve the company — for free. Doyle found out about a state grant that provides businesses with training funding. “The idea is that if they help a business grow, that business will hire more employees,” Doyle says.

“Training is expensive. We probably would not have done it without the grant money,” he adds.

Bryce & Doyle has spent its grant money on several types of training: The entire company is taking a 12-week leadership class; project manager Tom Kilminster is enrolled in an online project management course through Villanova University; some employees are taking a CAD design class; and Doyle is receiving business coaching.

The grant pays for these classes and provides money to compensate employees for time spent attending training.

A few years ago, Doyle had worked with a city employment agency to get money for training. But it was through a contact at a local accounting firm that he found out about the state grant.

To apply for the grant, Doyle had to get three quotes for each training program he wanted company staff to attend and to then submit the proposals to the state agency. “We pay the [training] firms and then submit proof of course attendance. We send a voucher to the state and it sends us the money for that portion of the program,” he says.

That entire process took a year, and Doyle says that working with the agencies requires patience. But, he points out, it's worth the time, as employees have already — even before completing their training — come up with new ideas to implement. These include a new way of charging for change orders and using DISC profiling to better communicate with clients.