NY State Opens $11.4M Finger Lakes Workforce Development Center

Located on the Monroe Community College Downtown Campus, Finger Lakes Workforce Development Center focuses on technology training for jobs in advanced manufacturing, IT.

On May 23, New York Governor Kathy Hochul celebrated the grand opening of the Finger Lakes Workforce Development Center on Monroe Community College’s (MCC) Downtown Campus. The $11.4 million, 50,000-square-foot 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,” said Gov. Hochul. “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.”

Finger Lakes Workforce Development Center
Governor Kathy Hochul delivers remarks at the Finger Lakes Workforce Development Center in Rochester. (Photos: Mike Groll/Office of Governor Kathy Hochul)

Finger Lakes Workforce Development CenterMade possible by New York State and SUNY capital funding, 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, the new facility is expected to train an estimated 2,500 individuals within the next three years.

The FWD Center 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. It 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.

“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,” said Empire State Development President and CEO & Commissioner Hope Knight. “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.”

The FWD Center supports a variety of programs and allows 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.

The FWD Center aligns with the recent 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 $350 million investment in state funding will support 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.