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Workforce training commands high priority in Genesee County

BATAVIA – Nearly $1.5 million for workforce training secured by the Genesee County Economic Development Corp. has helped more than 300 workers receive higher levels of expertise, agency official said.

Since 2009, the agency has helped hundreds of teachers and students find their way in a wide range of careers.

“No longer do people in machine shops stand over mills and lathes and do things by hand,” John P. Jakubowski said last week during a report to agency directors. “We’re in a high-tech environment, and we are working diligently with existing companies to try and meet their need for skilled employees.”

Jakubowski, a Williamsville resident and Batavia native, has provided workforce development consulting services for the agency and its investment arm, Genesee Gateway Local Development Corp., for the past six years.

Jakubowski has helped the agency forge partnerships with the University at Buffalo, Rochester Institute of Technology, Erie Community College, Genesee Community College and other colleges. He has secured hundreds of thousands of dollars in workforce training grants from and for Genesee County businesses such as Alpina Foods, Müller Quaker Dairy, O-AT-KA Milk Products, Yancey’s Fancy, Lapp, Chassix, Bonduelle and Liberty Pumps.

Currently, Jakubowski, a retired school administrator, is spearheading a second phase of a Mechatronics program in collaboration with GCC.

Three classes, with 24 participants from eight companies, will participate in the program at CNC Technical Solutions Inc. in Medina. Over the past year, the agency has obtained more than $30,000 in grants to help offset the cost of this training.

“We have to look regionally as owners are telling us they can’t find people to fill these changing jobs,” Jakubowski said. “We’re trying to get them to look at workforce differently. We’re doing a lot with concepts of development and advancement within the corporation.”

Other recent projects include:

• A $200,000 grant for the purchase of new technology for an expanded CNC Machining program for the Genesee Valley Educational Partnership, equipment for GCC’s Food Manufacturing Technology degree program and the GVEP’s Agricultural Academy for high school students.

• Grants totaling more than $30,000 to fund training for existing companies.

• Continued participation on the WNY STEM (Science Technology Engineering Math and the Arts) Hub, the FAME (Finger Lakes Advanced Manufacturers’ Enterprise) Pipeline Committee, the WEMOCO (Western Monroe County Career and Technical Education Center) Workforce Council and Monroe Community College’s Middle Skills Gap consortium.

• More than $50,000 from a previous grant from National Fuel for entry level training for the food-processing industry.

The development agency recently renewed Jakubowski’s contract for another year at a maximum cost of $29,800, with a per day rate of up to $350.

“(Workforce development) is a vital part of the agency’s mission … in that it allows the board to stick with the business of policymaking,” said director John Rizzo.