Syracuse-based economic org receives $1 million grant to support CNY job training

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Syracuse-based economic development organization CenterState CEO is set to receive a $1 million grant to support job training from New York state as part of a statewide shift towards a technology-centered workforce.

The award is part of a $6 million collection of grants that Gov. Kathy Hochul announced on Dec. 28. The Office of Strategic Workforce Development, which Hochul founded in April 2022 as part of a $350 million state-wide initiative, designed the grant package to invest in the working population following the unemployment levels in the COVID-19 pandemic.


Aimee Durfee, director of workforce innovation at CenterState CEO, pointed to the organization’s goal of using the grants to diversify the region’s workforce and ensuring opportunities are well-paid.

“The new grants will add to our current collaborative work to enable residents in our community to access a wide variety of well-paid job opportunities here in central New York,” Durfee wrote in an email.

Aside from CenterState CEO, the state awarded grants to an additional seven groups across the state. The groups all fall under what Hochul has referred to as “the jobs of the future,” such as advanced manufacturing, information technology and film & television.

Durfee said CenterState CEO’s process for achieving these goals includes developing a High-Tech Careers Bridge program under the Syracuse Surge initiative, a partnership aimed at investing in Syracuse’s tech infrastructure.

“The idea is to create a ‘bridge’ across challenges that might keep people out of opportunities for good wage jobs,” Durfee said.

The program will include career exploration and networking sessions, GED completion support, reading and math classes and support for childcare and transportation, Durfee said.

CenterState CEO is also working to prepare Syracuse residents to enter trade apprenticeships. Last week, 21 individuals graduated from their “Pathways to Apprenticeships” program’s fourth cohort, Dufree said.

Another local organization that received a grant of almost $1 million is The Manufacturer’s Association of Central New York (MACNY), a nonprofit that represents manufacturing. Amy Stage, director of apprenticeship and workforce development for MACNY, said the grant will go toward increasing workforce diversity.

Stage identified expanding opportunities for women as the organization’s primary vision, and pointed to the fact that women held only 11% of active apprenticeships in 2022.

MACNY, in partnership with Mohawk Valley Community College in Utica, plans to use grant money to offer a pre-apprenticeship program for women. Stage said the twelve-week session will teach entry-level manufacturing courses and soft skills.

In the city of Syracuse, industry and workforce have historically maintained close correlation. Once a manufacturing hub of the region and nation, the industrial decline of the city quickened in the early 2000s when Syracuse lost 10,000 manufacturing jobs between 2000 and 2003.

But now, Stage said she recognizes a “manufacturing revival” in the area, especially given Micron’s recent announcement of a historic $100 billion investment toward a new semiconductor fabrication facility in Clay, NY, around 15 minutes north of Syracuse.

Semiconductor fabrication is a shared area of focus between CenterState CEO, MACNY and the Office of Workforce Development. Stage emphasized that American companies like Micron are “reshoring” jobs according to these national security and supply chain concerns.

“The recent announcement of the Micron investment in Central New York will only increase the demand for talented workers across our region,” Stage said. “This is why we are actively promoting opportunities for increasing diversity in manufacturing.”

Durfee also said the grant will prepare the region for Micron’s investment.

“Micron has certainly increased the imperative for us to scale these programs and ensure that the talent that exists in this community has access to that opportunity,” Durfee said.

Hochul’s $6 million in grants follows a trend of investment in modernizing the workforce and industry of upstate and central New York. As part of the bipartisan federal spending package for the 2023 Fiscal Year, Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillenbrand secured $2 million for the Rochester Institute of Technology to support engineering education and mitigate the global chips shortage.

Another $3.5 million of the federal spending package went to the Monroe Community College Applied Technology Center in Rochester to provide job training and employment opportunities. Both the RIT and MCC allotments are part of $250 million dedicated to developing infrastructure and industry in the Finger Lakes region.

Durfee said she is confident that local industry is on the rise, and CenterState CEO will use the grants to increase the skillsets of central New York workers.

“We are seeing job growth in the region, and we are working with partners to make sure the businesses that are here or will be here can access the talent they need to grow,” Durfee said.


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Syracuse-based economic org receives $1 million grant to support CNY job training


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