Study: WCC-UA partnership brings nearly $8 million annually to county

Published on Aug 7, 2017 11:37am by Richard Rezler, Public Relations

 Lon Horwedel UA Director of Education and Training Chris Haslinger, Local 190 Business Manager Kevin Groeb, Washtenaw Community College President Dr. Rose B. Bellanca and WCCVB President and CEO Mary Kerr pose with the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners during an August 2 meeting.

A study commissioned by the Washtenaw County Convention and Visitors Bureau shows Washtenaw Community College’s partnership with The United Association of Journeyman and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry (UA) resulted in a $7.6 million economic impact for the county in 2016.

(Read the WCCVB's press release about the economic impact study.)

This summer marks the 28th year members of The United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipefitting Industry (UA) have arrived on the Washtenaw Community College campus for its week-long Instructor Training Program (ITP). Students of the program take college-level training courses to become certified UA apprentice instructors.

Roughly 1,200 people came to WCC when the partnership started in 1990. That number is expected to be more than doubled when instructors, master instructors, industry partners and vendors attend the 2017 training on August 12-18.

Chris Haslinger, Director of Education and Training for the United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters, received a proclamation from the Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners at its August 2 meeting. Local 190 Business Manager Kevin Groeb, Washtenaw Community College President Dr. Rose Bellanca and WCCVB President and CEO Mary Kerr participated in the ceremony.

The annual training event is so large and impactful that the Washtenaw County Convention and Visitors Bureau closes downtown Ann Arbor streets to host a community block party, among other events, in the UA’s honor.

“It’s great to see the magnitude of the UA’s presence in Ann Arbor through this impact study,” said UA General President Mark McManus. “We take immense pride knowing that while we are investing in the future of our industry through training instructors who will teach new generations of highly skilled piping professionals, we are also giving back to the community that hosts us not only during the ITP event but throughout the year as well.”

While it may be the busiest week of the year, the instructor training program isn’t the only time the UA is represented on the WCC campus. In 2003, the UA established a permanent presence with the opening of the 15,500-square-foot Great Lakes Regional Training Center, which hosts year-round courses and serves as the hub of the union’s distance learning operation. The building underwent extensive renovations in 2014.

The college offers UA University @ WCC, a specialized learning opportunity that allows UA members to build upon their trade-related experience and apprenticeships while pursuing certificates and associate degree programs specifically designed for the union.

“As a result of our long-standing partnership with the UA, thousands of instructors have taught their peers the required knowledge needed to acquire jobs in a skilled trades profession,” said Bellanca. “Our shared investment will help bridge the skilled trades gap currently affecting the country and assure a workforce that is job ready and one that meets the needs of business and industry.”

The economic impact study was completed by Anderson Economic Group, LLC. It analyzed data behind the UA’s week-long instructor training program and its year-round meetings and programs. Among the findings:

  • The UA attracted nearly 3,000 people to the area in 2016, resulting in over 18,500 visitor days.
  • The UA generated $5.5 million in net new spending in the area, including $3.8 million during the instructor training.
  • The total economic impact of the UA’s presence in the area was nearly $7.6 million in annual output, $1.9 million in annual earnings and 61 jobs.

This is the 64th year for the UA’s instructor training program, which was held at Purdue University before the switch was made to WCC in 1990.

To welcome this year’s group, the visitors bureau coordinated community block party and the sixth annual UA 5K Run and Pub Crawl. For details, visit

“Summers in Washtenaw County are packed with events” and welcoming the return of the UA to the area is truly a highlight,” said Kerr. “The relationship that’s developed between the UA, WCC, and the community over the past 28 years speaks volumes” it represents a value that extends beyond the significant economic impact of hosting the Instructor Training Program and has become a partnership built on camaraderie and a commitment to education.”

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