Governor Kathy Hochul today attended and announced the grand opening of the Finger Lakes Workforce Development Center on Monroe Community College’s Downtown Campus. The $11.4 million 50,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art Finger Lakes Workforce Development Center focuses on short-term and accelerated, technology-oriented training programs that place individuals in high-demand jobs within advanced manufacturing, information technology, skilled trades, apprenticeship-related instruction, and professional services.
“The pandemic had caused tremendous damage to our workforce, which is why we are doubling down on our efforts to connect New Yorkers with good job opportunities,” Governor Hochul said. “This state of the art education and workforce development center will deliver accelerated training programs to provide New Yorkers in the Finger Lakes with the skills they need to compete in today’s dynamic and ever-changing job market. As we rebuild our economy, projects like this will ensure that New York remains the most business- and worker-friendly state in the nation.”
Made possible by New York State and SUNY capital funding totaling $11.4 million, the Finger Lakes Workforce Development (FWD) Center was completed on time and on budget, with $6 million awarded from a SUNY2020 grant and $5.4 million from the Finger Lakes Forward Upstate Revitalization Initiative. Housed on the fifth and sixth floors of MCC’s Downtown Campus at 321 State Street, the new facility anticipates training an estimated 2,500 individuals within the next three years.
The new facility is a model for co-locating multiple colleges and private-sector entities to help fill employers’ growing needs for skilled technicians and help restore the regional economy. The FWD Center brings together partnerships amongst Finger Lakes Community College, Genesee Community College, Monroe Community College, Empire State Development, Rochester Institute of Technology, the City of Rochester, BOCES, Rochester City School District, Rochester Technology and Manufacturing Association, Greater Rochester Enterprise, RochesterWorks!, NYS Department of Labor, and Monroe County. These partnerships connect learners to education and support employment through work-based learning opportunities and active job placement.
Empire State Development President and CEO & Commissioner Hope Knight said, “Through our support for this important project, we are ensuring that the region’s talented workforce is equipped with the skills necessary to compete in today’s dynamic, ever-changing job market. The new Finger Lakes Workforce Development Center at MCC will strengthen companies’ ability to access a robust pipeline of highly-trained workers that will support local business development and move the regional economy forward.”
New York State Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon said, “Governor Hochul’s unwavering support of workforce development is creating opportunity for New Yorkers statewide. The Finger Lakes Workforce Development Center was built, in part, by the hands of apprentices, using the very skills they received through training that will be conducted here. I encourage New Yorkers who are interested in a job where they can earn a good salary while receiving the skills they need to succeed to consider participating in a Registered Apprenticeship.”
SUNY Interim Chancellor Deborah F. Stanley said, “SUNY is adapting to workforce demands not just of today, but anticipating the needs of tomorrow. By providing this state-of-the-art education center tailored to teaching skills in manufacturing, computer science, and professional services, we are investing in the potential of all New Yorkers seeking to change fields or move up in their chosen careers. Once again, Governor Hochul has championed higher education as a means of growing the state economy and investing in our talented learners so that they can achieve their dreams, and we thank her for it.”
Interim Chancellor Stanley also acknowledged how the FWD Center start-up operations and equipment were supported by a $3.2 million grant from The Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation.
The FWD Center is designed to support a variety of programs and allow for quick modification of the space to meet the specific needs of regional employers. New programs offered at the FWD Center will focus on Industry 4.0-related skills in automation, robotics, mechatronics as well as information technology. A secondary focus will be skilled trades and youth apprenticeship-related instruction. To strengthen the educational pipeline, an early college program model will focus on exposing high school students to advanced smart technologies. New programs and additional partnerships are in development and will be announced later this year. For more information, visit www.FWD-Center.com.
Today’s announcement aligns with Governor Hochul’s broad efforts to develop and coordinate effective training and workforce development programming across state government. Recently, she announced the creation of the New York State Office of Strategic Workforce Development, which will be charged with improving the State’s workforce development programs and practices to better align with the needs and priorities of today’s employers. The Governor first proposed the new office, which is being established within Empire State Development and will be guided by the Regional Economic Development Councils, in her State of the State address earlier this year and committed funding that was approved in the FY2023 budget.
The $350 million investment in state funding will support wide-reaching, historic and coordinated investment in workforce development across state agencies and authorities and includes $150 million in multi-year funding for new grant programs that will primarily support employer-driven, high skilled workforce training programs.
State Senator Samra Brouk said, “As the demand grows for workers in high-tech industries, the FWD Center will ensure that our region is ready to meet the moment. Workers who are able to participate in the growth of these advanced industries will share in the promise of their success—which benefits everyone in our community. I’m proud to support initiatives like this that foster lifelong learning, support our workers and revitalize our community and economy, and look forward to seeing the FWD Center produce results for Rochester.”
State Senator Jeremy Cooney said, “The Finger Lakes Workforce Development Center is a significant asset to our region, rising to meet the growing demand for jobs in the skilled trades, technology, and manufacturing. As a member of the Higher Education Committee, I recognize the importance of partnerships between educational institutions, the private sector, and public funding support. I am grateful to SUNY and the Finger Lakes Forward Upstate Revitalization Initiative for making this possible.”
Assemblymember Harry Bronson said, “Our region has been at the forefront of educating and preparing our workforce for existing, expanding and new emerging industries and technologies through various institutions working in concert with one another. The FWD Center is the culmination of years of partnerships cemented in one single location – Monroe Community College’s Downtown Campus. Now begins a new era focused on apprenticeships where students can earn while they learn and employers can set their eyes on a new skilled workforce here in the Finger Lakes Region. This could not have been possible without the support of Governor Hochul, the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council, and SUNY. This investment is paving the future for our families.”
Assemblymember Sarah Clark said, “I am very excited to see the community and the private sector coming together to advance this incredible opportunity for the greater Rochester regional economy and workforce. The Finger Lakes Workforce Development center at MCC downtown is exactly the type of project we need as we continue to equitably recover from the pandemic. The partnerships that brought this to fruition are what make our state unique, yielding limitless opportunities for the various industries the FWD center will focus on, as well as the talented workforce created. I am proud to support New York State’s investment in this new initiative. Thank you to Governor Hochul, MCC, SUNY and the many, many additional partners who made this possible.”
Assemblymember Jennifer Lunsford said, “The Finger Lakes Workforce Development Center at MCC’s campus in downtown Rochester creates the type of workforce development that is desperately needed in today’s economy. This project and today’s grand opening is preparing the next generation with skilled technical jobs that will be in high demand for years if not decades to come. This is good for our community, region, and our collective future.”
Assemblymember Demond Meeks said, “With demands for innovation growing across various industries in an ever-changing job market, we must ensure all members of our community are equipped with the tools and skills necessary for success. That begins with an integrated focus not only on academics, but on problem-solving, career readiness, and professional development. Resources such as those offered through the Finger Lakes Workforce Development Center are an important step in both creating skilled workers and promoting lasting change throughout our community. I want to thank the members and staff of Monroe Community College, Governor Hochul, and my state colleagues for demonstrating their commitment to the people of Rochester.”
Monroe County Executive Adam Bello said, “With its focus on the in-demand skills of today and tomorrow, the FWD Center will increase job opportunities for people living in Monroe County and the Finger Lakes region, make our existing businesses stronger and help spur more investment in our economy and our people. Economic and workforce development is a key pillar supporting Monroe County’s successful future and I thank Governor Kathy Hochul, the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council and the State University of New York for their commitment to our community.”
Mayor of Rochester Malik D. Evans said, “This is an important effort to connect employers with educators and provide training programs that give people marketable skills. I am excited for the people of Rochester who stand to benefit from these opportunities, and excited to see the city burnish our reputation for an educated workforce and good jobs.”
Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Co-Chairs Bob Duffy, President and CEO, Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce, and Denise Battles, President SUNY Geneseo, said, “We are thankful for the investment from New York State in the Finger Lakes Workforce Development Center. This public-private partnership will allow individuals to receive training in high-demand careers in our region. Such collaborations between area colleges and employers in the Finger Lakes close skill gaps and create a stronger regional economy by providing students with the expertise they need to get ahead, stay in our community, and support their families with a true living wage.”
Monroe Community College President Dr. DeAnna R. Burt-Nanna said, “As our region looks ahead to rebounding from the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s important no one is left behind. The FWD Center represents a pivotal step forward for anyone – from high school students to working parents, military veterans, and those who are underemployed and unemployed – seeking high-quality, fast-track training without going into debt and a high-demand career that pays family-sustaining wages. MCC’s strong alliances with our peer colleges, employers and industry groups, community leaders, and local and state governments reflect our collective commitment to building stronger, more inclusive communities and providing upward opportunities for residents across all ZIP codes in our region. MCC is grateful for New York State’s investment in our students, community and region.”
Monroe Community College Vice President of Economic Development, Workforce and Career Technical Education Dr. Robin Cole Jr. said, “Monroe Community College is excited to see the vision of the FWD Center come to fruition. The investment in developing the technicians of tomorrow within the Finger Lakes region is displayed by the center and the entities that have collaborated on this initiative. As we enter the Industry 4.0 revolution, companies are focusing on skill sets that may not have specific job descriptions, but do require technicians who are forward-thinking and possess 21st-century skills. This center and the training that will take place here will transform fingers into a hand that will extend out to the community and pull people into the game of economic sustainability and upward mobility.”
About The State University of New York
The State University of New York is the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the United States, and more than 95 percent of all New Yorkers live within 30 miles of any one of SUNY’s 64 colleges and universities. Across the system, SUNY has four academic health centers, five hospitals, four medical schools, two dental schools, a law school, the state’s only college of optometry, and manages one US Department of Energy National Laboratory. In total, SUNY serves about 1.3 million students amongst its entire portfolio of credit- and non-credit bearing courses and programs, continuing education, and community outreach programs. SUNY oversees nearly a quarter of academic research in New York. Research expenditures system-wide are nearly $1.1 billion in fiscal year 2021, including significant contributions from students and faculty. There are more than 3 million SUNY alumni worldwide, and one in three New Yorkers with a college degree is a SUNY alum. To learn more about how SUNY creates opportunity, visit www.suny.edu.
Accelerating Finger Lakes Forward
Today’s announcement complements “Finger Lakes Forward,” the region’s comprehensive blueprint to generate robust economic growth and community development. The regionally designed plan focuses on investing in key industries including photonics, agriculture and food production, and advanced manufacturing. Now, the region is accelerating Finger Lakes Forward with a $500 million State investment through the Upstate Revitalization Initiative. The State’s $500 million investment will incentivize private business to invest well over $2.5 billion – and the region’s plan, as submitted, projects up to 8,200 new jobs. More information is available here.
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