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New Monroe County-MCC Initiative to Connect Residents to High-Demand Careers

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – June 20, 2017 – Imagine Monroe (formerly known as the County of Monroe Industrial Development Agency) and Monroe Community College (MCC) are teaming to alleviate a persistent challenge in the Finger Lakes region —the disconnect between the number of people seeking full-time employment and the unfilled positions in the area.

The new LadderzUp workforce development initiative leverages Imagine Monroe’s and MCC’s resources and expertise to provide ladders of educational and training opportunities aligned with current and future job openings in high-demand industries for Monroe County residents.

“A trained and skilled workforce is a tremendous asset to our economy,” said County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo. “When businesses are looking to locate or expand in Monroe County, they expect a trained workforce. LadderzUp works on the concept that education and training enable residents to move up the economic ladder and provides tailor-made job training programs that ultimately lead to job placement.”

The partnership will begin with first-year funding of $355,000 from Imagine Monroe to support a minimum of 45 individuals with accelerated education and training focused on advanced manufacturing, health care and information technology.

Participants will have the opportunity to participate in a variety of educational options, which include credit and noncredit programs. Upon completion, students will be prepared to immediately enter the workforce or continue their education at MCC.

MCC’s Economic & Workforce Development Center will recruit participants, targeting Monroe County residents and businesses, with a focus on serving incumbent workers seeking new skill sets and job opportunities.

“Monroe County’s investment is critically important if we’re going to meet employers’ workforce needs and provide opportunities for local residents to achieve their goals and aspirations,” said MCC President Anne M. Kress. “Together, we can move our region forward, assuring all members of our community can access pathways to prosperity and enjoy brighter economic futures.

“Through the LadderzUp initiative, we are connecting individuals with in-demand career opportunities and helping combat the shortage of middle-skill workers, a systemic problem that has to be solved collectively,” said Todd Oldham, vice president of MCC’s Economic Development and Innovative Workforce Services Division. “This program is an important plank in our strategy to narrow opportunity gaps for students and fulfill employers’ evolving workforce demands. We’re grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with Monroe County to move our economy forward.”

Media Contact:
Cynthia Mapes
Marketing and Community Relations

Finger Lakes Regional Workforce Development Center at Eastman Business Park

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MCC has been awarded nearly $12 million in state funds to establish the Finger Lakes Regional Workforce Development Center at Eastman Business Park. The Center represents one of three Rochester-based anti-poverty projects to receive state funding. The investments complement Finger Lakes Forward, the region’s Upstate Revitalization Initiative blueprint aimed at growing the economy.

The Center ( is an outgrowth of key efforts by the MCC economic and workforce development division over the past five years and is one aspect of a larger vision to better support the community’s workforce, employers’ needs and our regional economy. The vision for the center includes creating flexible spaces that support a variety of programs and allow for quick modification of programming, credit and noncredit, to match the skills the College has measured as being most in demand within the region.

Once operational, in the first five years the Center is expected to train an estimated 2,300 workers and add more than approximately $40 million in economic benefits to the region in the form of worker salaries and increased supply chain value.

Using Big Data To Lead Collaborative Economic and Workforce Development Interventions

Posted in All News, MCC News

A new beta version 1.0 web platform,, was recently launched to estimate the middle-skills gaps within three upstate New York regions including Finger Lakes, Western New York, and Central New York, using labor market data from multiple big data providers. This platform is designed for workforce practitioners, educators, and economic developers, and uses MCC’s previously published report titled, Measuring Middle-Skills Occupational Gaps within the Finger Lakes Regional Economy, as a template for the data framework. Like the report, the platform uses a labor supply/labor demand analysis applied to middle-skills occupational groups from four workforce clusters: advanced manufacturing, applied technologies, information and computer technology, and health care. The sector analysis includes dashboards identifying and measuring educational attainment through a region’s capacity to produce certificate and degree completions against estimated annual openings for each middle-skills occupational group.

The point of the initiative is not measurement for measurement sake but making the information actionable and impactful, and to convene regional economic and workforce development collaborations that positively impact the community. To support this objective, a Regional Advisory Board that consists of economic developers, workforce practitioners, secondary and post-secondary educators, professional associations and community partners has been assembled. Their input and perspective continue to play a role in the development of the platform, and there is active discussion around collaboration opportunities. Currently, MCC is working with secondary education partners to roll-out several projects that integrate the web platform into their regular work in meaningful ways.

Additionally, the Monroe County division of Economic Development and Planning has embraced as a tool to better develop data informed economic and workforce development programs. This is a major step in reaching the website objective to become the tool-of-record for the region in the development of economic development strategy and middle skills gap analyses.

Development of the platform was funded in part by JPMorgan Chase & Co.









Regional Advisory Board. Pictured left to right, front row: Mike Mandina, Optimax; Lynn Fried, Workforce Development Institute; Joe Nairn, Finger Lakes Community College; Mike Woloson, Finger Lakes Workforce Investment Board; Lee Koslow, RochesterWorks; Susan Allen, East Irondequoit School District; Carol Stehm, Gate-Chili School District; Karen Poland, Monroe-2 BOCES.  Back row: John Lisak, Monroe-1 BOCES; Chris Wiest, Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce; Colleen DiMartino, Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce; Keith Babuszczak, Rochester City School District; Jill Slavny, Monroe-2 BOCES; Joe Wesley, Wegmans; Todd Oldham, Monroe Community College; Joe Hamm, NYS Dept. of Labor; Kevin Kelley, Rochester Technology and Manufacturing Association; Gloria Morgan, Rochester Educational Opportunity Center; Richard Fox, Finger Lakes Advanced Manufacturing Enterprise; Rich Turner, Monroe County Economic Development.

Not pictured: Karen Springmeier, Finger Lakes Workforce Investment Board; Matt Hurlbutt, Greater Rochester Enterprise; Steve Hyde, Genesee County Economic Development Center; Kent Gardner, Center for Governmental Research; Roosevelt Mareus, SUNY Brockport; Peter Pecor, RochesterWorks; Reid Smalley, Genesee Community College; Shaun Nelms, Rochester City School District; Bill Rotenberg, Monroe Community College/P-TECH; Paul Burke, Rochester City School District; Charles Dipasquale, Genesee Valley BOCES; Matt Flowers, Genesee Valley BOCES; Cherie Becker, Monroe-1 BOCES; Annette Christensen, Monroe-1 BOCES; Erin Fairben, Wayne Finger Lakes BOCES; Kathleen Richardson, Greece Central School District; Jon Sanfratello, Genesee Valley BOCES; Michele Sullivan, Wayne Finger Lakes BOCES.

New York Inspire Project: Tuition-Free Education And Training

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Under the leadership of the economic and workforce development division, MCC has been awarded a $6 million America’s Promise grant through the U.S. Department of Labor. The grant is a portion of a $111 million package of federal grants awarded late last year. Nearly two dozen community colleges across the country received grants as part of the Obama administration plan to invest in education and training programs and create more pathways to employment for millions of Americans.

The MCC award is funding NY INSPIRE, a 4-year project, which includes a consortium of local community colleges and partners led by MCC. The objective is to connect under-served urban and rural youth, veterans, and incumbent workers with tuition-free training and education in advanced manufacturing, information technology, and health care occupations.

Programs will include a variety of work-based learning opportunities to help participants obtain necessary skills, competencies and credentials including apprenticeship, on-the-job training, paid work experience and paid internships. A mixture of classroom education, cohort-based learning and technology-enabled training strategies will also be used.

To learn more about the NY INSPIRE project, contact MCC at

MCC Awarded $550,000 Federal Grant To Strengthen Regional Optics, Photonics Workforce

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National Science Foundation funds to expand educational and experiential learning opportunities for students and educators

BRIGHTON, N.Y. – April 25, 2017 – Monroe Community College’s new Optics & Photonics Technology Innovation—OPT IN!—program has received $550,434 from the National Science Foundation to connect more high school and college students to career opportunities in these growing fields and produce a skilled workforce needed to keep up with industry demands.

Funded over the next three years, the OPT IN! program will help provide education and training for 850 area high school and college students, increase internship opportunities, and expand outreach efforts to populations underrepresented in the optics and photonics industry, including women and minorities.

Currently the only U.S. community college that offers an associate degree in optical systems technology, MCC will enhance its existing program with new industry-based curriculum and industry-standard lab equipment and build collaborations allowing more high school students to earn college credits toward a degree at MCC.

In addition, summer internships and 2+2 transfer opportunities between MCC and four-year institutions will be developed. Not only will students gain real-world, hands-on experiences that connect to classroom learning, they will have the option to continue their education at a transfer college in pursuit of a bachelor’s degree.

Through the OPT IN! program, high school teachers and MCC faculty will receive professional development through externships to broaden their knowledge of modern industry practices. Mentoring will also be provided to regional high school teachers to prepare them to teach a dual-enrollment Introduction to Optics course, in an effort to cultivate students’ interest in the subject.

Efforts will focus on broadening regional industry and community partnerships aimed at providing experiential learning opportunities and education about optics and photonics as a career option. The OPT IN! program will strengthen alliances with AIM Photonics, the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council, the Rochester Museum & Science Center, New York Photonics, the Rochester Regional Photonics Cluster, secondary and postsecondary educators, regional industry partners, and more.

“We are very appreciative of the support of Senator Schumer, Senator Gillibrand and Congresswoman Slaughter in helping us secure this grant,” said Dr. Alexis Vogt, associate professor in MCC’s Engineering Technologies Department and chair of the optics program. “This grant will allow MCC to strengthen our region’s optics and photonics workforce and provide students here with employment opportunities in regional high-skill, high-demand positions. Ultimately this funding gives us the foundation to begin creating a regional center that will ensure we have the workforce it needs to attract, build and sustain a strong photonics industry.”

Media Contact:
Hency Yuen-Eng
Marketing and Community Relations

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