Great Lakes Boat Building School

Great Lakes Boat Building School Receives USDA Grant Funding for Equipment Campaign

Cedarville, Michigan – The Board of Directors and leadership of Great Lakes Boat Building School (GLBBS) were recently notified of the approval of a $354,600 Rural Business Development Grant (RBDG) awarded by the United States Department of Agriculture. The school applied for the support as part of their “Enhancing Education with Equipment” (EEE) campaign, a top priority at GLBBS to provide their students with new marine equipment and technology for skilled trades training.

GLBBS is the only marine trades institution in the Great Lakes region. The grant funding comes at a very opportune time as GLBBS enrollment has increased to 29 students, the largest class in the school’s history.

New marine equipment and technology are required to deliver more advanced Mercury University certification levels. GLBBS would be the second marine trades institution in the country to offer this much needed training. The other institution is in Florida. Also, due to demand from the industry, GLBBS is offering industry relevant Ilmor Engineering and Volvo Penta diesel curriculum which requires additional specialized training. Graduates with these certifications will help address the dire workforce shortage in Michigan’s marine industry.

“Our entire team was absolutely thrilled when Tom Coates, our Director of Development received notification that our application scored well and was approved,” said Nikki Storey, GLBBS President. “With our growing enrollment and strong demand for our students in the marine industry we must have the best and newest equipment available to teach the latest techniques in maintenance, troubleshooting and repairs. We are so appreciative to the USDA for recognizing the need and supporting us.”

“It was a rigorous but rewarding process working with Holly Thomma, our Business Programs Specialist from the USDA’s Gladstone area office,” said Coates. “When we had questions prior to applying for the grant, Holly was always very responsive and helpful. It was a pleasure having her visit the school recently as we met about the grant processing procedures.”

To date, Volvo Penta, Ilmor Engineering, the Marine Leadership Alliance, Gage Marine, National Marine Distributors Association and Interstate Power Systems have provided in-kind or monetary support. Inquiries can be made at or by calling (906) 484-1081.

“One of the criteria USDA personnel consider during the application evaluation process is the percent of non-federal funding committed to the project,” said Brandon Fewins, USDA Rural Development State Director for Michigan. “Great Lakes Boat Building School is developing the type of public-private partnership with their donors and the USDA that supports the mission of Rural Development, to increase the economic well-being and quality of life for people and communities in rural Michigan.”

More information about Great Lakes Boat Building School and its programs can be found at

Supporting this Record Breaking Class – Great Lakes Boat Building School recently received a $354,600 USDA Rural Business Development Grant to support the school’s Enhancing Education with Equipment Campaign. The campaign’s purpose is to acquire the latest in equipment and technology for students to prepare for employment in the marine industry. The support is timely as the school recently welcomed the largest class in its history for the 2023-24 school year.

About Great Lakes Boat Building School

GLBBS produces qualified students from their Comprehensive Career Boat Building Program (CCBB) and the Marine Service Technology Program (MST), in partnership with Mercury Marine University, with a consistent 100% placement rate.  The School addresses the shortage of skilled trades and craftspeople in the marine industry following graduation. For prospective student enrollment information go to or call 906.484.1081.

Information about the “Enhancing Education with Equipment” campaign is available by contacting Tom Coates, Director of Development at or by calling 906.484.1081.

Great Lakes Boat Building School is a non-profit organization recognized as a charitable organization and is accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges.