Nancy Sanders Peterson, president and CEO of Peterson Tool, had a problem all too common today. Many of the workers ather Nashville company -- which designs and manufactures specialized metalworking cutting tools -- were short on math skills.But Peterson couldn't afford to send more than 10% of her 165 employees back to high school. Instead, she took advantage ofa state-funded training program. At no cost to Peterson, high-school teachers visited the company twice a week to teach mathclasses between workers' shifts. A few employees even went so far as to take the GED (General Educational Development)high-school equivalency test. Peterson believes the math training really paid off. For example, she says, her companysubsequently obtained its ISO 9000 certification.

About 45 states offer some form of training subsidies to businesses, according to a 1999 report by Sacramento-based SteveDuscha Advisories. Criteria for the programs vary by state.