Nightforce Optics: Using WorkForce Training Funds Help Employees Advance

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In 1992, Nightforce Optics was established in Orofino with only two employees. As of 2013, the business passed its 100-employee mark, a success company officials attribute largely to participation in the Workforce Development Training Fund. Nightforce Optics produces a variety of high-end precision rifle and spotting scopes.

“The options for Nightforce without the Workforce Development Training Fund would have meant fewer monies available to fund capital expenses, which in turn would have curbed our growth,” said Debbi Duffy, human resource manager with Nightforce Optics. “It would have also meant less money to support hiring and the ability to provide annual cost of living increases for the existing workforce.”

Nightforce Optics received $130,000 in Idaho Workforce Development Training Funds to enhance the skills of 29 employees in assembly and tool knowledge, rifle scope assembly and machine operation. These skills allow NightForce Optics to remain viable in the marketplace, offer living wage jobs and comprehensive benefit packages.

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“Advancement pay for unskilled workers is highly dependent on training,” Duffy said. “Without proper time and dollars to invest in training employees, we could not prepare staff to move into new levels of technician jobs which in turn means advanced pay for advanced skills.”

New employees and the local community as a whole both benefit from the expansion of Nightforce Optics. Expansion allowed the company to move from providing primarily professional and military contracts to including contracts for private sector hunting and shooting enthusiasts.

According to Duffy, Nightforce Optics invests a substantial amount of money locally in businesses and vendors.

“The Workforce Development Training Fund gives Idaho businesses a great opportunity to grow and remain stable in the community,” Duffy said. “We have used it with the highest integrity to grow and sustain our business.  Idaho remains a great state to do business in and we are happy to be here.”

Idaho employers finance the state’s Workforce Development Training Fund in its entirety through a 3 percent offset of the unemployment insurance tax. For a company to be eligible to receive training funds, it must pay a minimum wage of $12 per hour, provide employer-assisted medical benefits and sell its products or services primarily outside of the region where it is located.

The fund was established in 1996. Eligible companies are reimbursed for the cost of training new workers or existing employees at risk of layoff.

Learn more about how your business may benefit from the many training resources, hiring incentives and other programs available through the Idaho Department of Labor.

– Tabitha Bower,