BUFFALO — Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced Friday the graduation of the first students from the first year of operations of the Northland Workforce Training Center (NWTC) on Buffalo's East Side.
The Advanced Manufacturing Training Center at Northland provides for-credit, certificate and degree programs as core offerings through its educational partners, SUNY Erie Community College and Alfred State College, incorporating work experience and placement with local companies toward a goal of permanent employment. Today's graduates will help to increase the number and quality of local candidates prepared for advanced manufacturing careers.
"Job opportunities for advanced manufacturing workers are on the rise in Western New York, and we are making sure the arrows continue pointing in that direction," Governor Cuomo said. "I congratulate today's skilled Northland graduates, who are well positioned for career advancement and financial stability for years to come thanks to their hard work and dedication in pursuing a manufacturing degree."
As the signature workforce initiative under the Buffalo Billion, NWTC at 683 Northland Avenue is an industry-driven, public-private partnership between employers, educational institutions, community and faith-based organizations and state and local government. Northland is focused on closing the skills gap of the local labor pool and creating economic on-ramps to training, co-ops, internships, apprenticeships and permanent employment for Western New Yorkers seeking high-paying advanced manufacturing and energy careers.
"I have seen firsthand the incredible work being done at the Northland Workforce Training Center, which is preparing young people and retraining workers for a growing number of manufacturing jobs," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. "Northland addresses the skills gap facing our economy and provides new hope to residents of Buffalo's East Side. Thanks to state investments, we are advancing our workforce development goals, providing the skilled workers our employers need and preparing for the economic future of Western New York."
NWTC is uniquely designed for individuals 18 years or older to address all the major barriers that typically keep students from enrolling and completing post-secondary education: Transportation, childcare, academic readiness and affordability. NWTC is committed to providing for-credit education at little to no cost to those with financial need, and comprehensive support services that will help students graduate and enter the workforce with all the tools needed for success.
NWTC students participate in an industry awareness program to learn about careers in advanced manufacturing and energy. Through its State University of New York (SUNY) educational partners, SUNY Alfred State College (SUNY Alfred) and SUNY Erie, NWTC offers for-credit and Associate Degree programs as core offerings. Before and during their coursework students are assigned career coaches and placement specialists who guide the students and work with them to obtain- and successfully maintain employment with local companies. This support continues after graduation for up to three years after students are hired full-time.
This training approach combines evidence-based best practices regarding awareness, recruitment, assessment, career planning, education and training, job placement and retention services with comprehensive support to ensure student suitability, preparedness, persistence, placement and career advancement.
The NWTC course offerings vary each semester in response to industry needs, with programs taught on site by SUNY Alfred and SUNY Erie faculty in key manufacturing and energy skills such as welding, electrical construction/maintenance, machining and mechatronics (manufacturing technologies that integrate electronics, control engineering, and mechanical engineering). Future programming is planned in solar and other clean-utility technologies.
The majority of the NWTC graduating students have been placed in jobs at well-known Western New York manufacturers including; Moog, NFTA, Harmac, Lornamead, Allied Circuits, Rexel, Lactalis,Viant, Ametek, Whittburn Electric, Niagara Transformer Corp., and Buffalo Games.
Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Howard Zemsky, who spoke at the event, said, "Northland's graduates are equipped with the high-demand skills and training that are critical to success in the industries that are a sign of Western New York's continued economic growth. Local employers will now have access to an extraordinary talent pool that will drive regional business development and further our goals of expanding growth and opportunity across New York State."
Senator Tim Kennedy said, "The Northland Workforce Training Center has proven to be an incredible resource for those searching to further their educations and skills, and today's graduates have truly dedicated themselves to advancing their careers. I congratulate this first class of Northland graduates, celebrate their successes, and hope to see them use their newfound expertise right here in Western New York."
Senator Chris Jacobs said, "I want to congratulate the inaugural graduating class of the Northland Workforce Training Center as they embark on promising new high-tech, advanced manufacturing and energy careers. This is an exciting time as Northland begins to deliver on its mission of preparing the workforce of the future, and I look forward to the impact these graduates will have on Western New York's economy."
Assembly Member Crystal Peoples-Stokes said, "Congratulations to the inaugural graduating class of the Northland Workforce Training Center! Your success shows how the Buffalo Billion is working to train tomorrow's workforce for advanced manufacturing jobs while improving your quality of life and ability to provide for your families."
Assembly Member Sean Ryan said, "The Northland Workforce Training Center is providing an invaluable service to Western New York workers. The workers who are coming out of this program are ready to join our diverse work force and help our economy continue to grow. Congratulations to everyone who has put in the hard work necessary to graduate. I look forward to seeing the positive impact you have on our community."
City of Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown said, "Today's first class of Northland Workforce Training Center graduates is yet another milestone in this game-changing effort toward a better, stronger and more vibrant Buffalo. I wish the graduates all the best as they use their new skills to build careers. The Northland Corridor Project, which is still in its infancy, is already having an indelible positive impact, on those who come here to learn advanced manufacturing skills, and for this neighborhood, Buffalo's East Side and the entire City of Buffalo. Thank you again to Governor Cuomo for supporting our vision to make Buffalo a diverse and inclusive place of opportunity for all, where no one is left out and no one is left behind."
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said, "Erie County's workforce continues to grow and our economic sector is strengthened with the graduation of this first-ever class at the Northland Workforce Training Center. With an education provided by SUNY Erie, I know these graduates now have the skills and tools to succeed, building good careers to support themselves and their families. Congratulations to the graduates and good luck in the future."
NWTC is the anchor of the Northland Beltline project, a 35-acre brownfield redevelopment project that is creating an urban business campus focusing on advanced manufacturing, clean energy, innovation and workforce training. This project involves the redevelopment of multiple vacant buildings/properties in a historic manufacturing district located on Buffalo's East Side. The NWTC is located at 683 Northland Avenue, created through an adoptive reuse of the former Clearing Niagara Plant and is being financed through a partnership between Empire State Development, the New York Power Authority and the City of Buffalo. Empire State Development and New York Power Authority are partnering with the Buffalo Urban Development Corporation, which has served as developer for the NWTC as well as other components of the larger Northland Beltline campus.
The NWTC facility was funded with $29 million from the Buffalo Billion, $15 million from the New York Power Authority and $120,000 from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. The project also qualified for a series of Historic Tax Credits, Brownfield Tax Credits and New Market Tax Credits. Additionally, grants from National Grid and National Fuel helped to fund this project.
New York Power Authority Chairman and Buffalo resident John R. Koelmel said, "I congratulate the first graduates from the Northland Training Center. These newly-skilled men and women are now much better positioned for a sustainable role in our regional economy, providing needed talent for the local advanced manufacturing and energy sectors."
Buffalo Manufacturing Works, operated by EWI, is currently in the process of moving from its current Main Street location to a 50,000-square-foot space at 683 Northland Avenue, allowing it to expand its machinery, labs and office space. Launched in 2015, Buffalo Manufacturing Works engages with businesses in Western New York and beyond to develop and implement cutting-edge manufacturing technologies to enhance productivity. The move to Northland will allow BMW to increase the number of staff and grow existing partnerships with organizations serving manufacturing that will be located under the same roof at Northland.
President of Buffalo Manufacturing Works Michael Ulbrich said, "Growing a workforce that can meet the demands of the manufacturers in our region is key to helping them become more competitive. To see the first class graduate from the Northland Workforce Training Center is an important step forward to meet those needs and we are excited to be collaborating with the next generation of workers on the next generation of processes and technologies under one roof to serve the region's manufacturing sector."
Northland Workforce Training Center President and CEO Stephen Tucker said, "Over the past two years, we've been working hard to launch Northland Workforce Training Center, and I am now excited to see our first graduating class. These graduates are the first of many as we strive to close the talent gap now facing our economy and build a talent pipeline for the future. I would like to thank Governor Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Byron Brown for their vision and leadership in developing the Center as well as Empire State Development, New York Power Authority, Buffalo Urban Development Corporation, The Economic Development Group Inc., our Board of Directors and our funders."
SUNY Erie Community College President Dr. Dan Hocoy said, "We are incredibly proud to have partnered with the Northland Workforce Training Center this past year to offer academic programming that will lead to future family-sustaining employment for our graduates. The NWTC staff have been a beacon of hope for this first cohort of graduates and have set the tone for future classes to achieve their dreams. We look forward to continuing to work with Northland to provide quality educational opportunities to the community."
Northland student Vanessa-Marie Hall said, "I am proud to say that I am a part of the first Graduating class from SUNY Erie at Northland Workforce Training Center. Northland provided me with a one stop shop for me to walk into a new career and now, less than a year later, I am a certified Mechatronics Technician. I am currently working for Harmac as a Mechanical Set up Technician making a great salary as well as interning at NFTA, which allows me to have a better life than I had before."
Associate Director of Plant Engineering for Harmac Medical Products and Northland student employer Doug Campbell said, "Vanessa is very outgoing and motivated. She is taking the knowledge she gained from her Northland training and using it to help her grow in her role with Harmac. She has a very busy schedule, between her work and classes, but she maintains a great attitude for us and is consistently eager to learn and do more. I believe Vanessa is a good fit for the Harmac family."