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Workforce Training Center doubles enrollment as work continues at Northland

The Northland Workforce Training Center has doubled its enrollment to 200 students at its East Side facility, even as construction work continues on the light-industrial hub that the city and state are creating.

The educational center — designed to provide technical skills training to residents of the impoverished nearby neighborhoods so they can obtain advanced manufacturing jobs — began its spring classes last week, with a second class of 100 new students joining the 100 who started classes in September.

Major pieces of training equipment has been delivered and installed, while some smaller items are still being ordered, according to the Buffalo Urban Development Corp., which owns the complex and is overseeing the project. BUDC officials, along with their contractors, are also working with SUNY Alfred State to obtain additional space for September for more senior-level electrical classes, using an adjacent shed building.

Meanwhile, work on that portion of the building at 683 Northland Ave. is essentially complete, aside from some mechanical systems work. GiGi's Restaurant will open in mid-February.

Construction also is well underway on the other half of the sprawling 240,000-square-foot complex, which will house Buffalo Manufacturing Works and other tenants. Most of the roof and decking are in place, while wall framing is starting and exterior windows will be installed over the next couple of weeks, said David Stebbins, BUDC vice president. Plans call for the second phase to be completed by the end of July, he said.

Nearby, masonry and roofing work is finished at 612 Northland, while windows are being installed, and electrical, plumbing and interior wall construction are underway. And street paving, landscaping, signage, lighting, road striping and a rain garden are completed or almost done on Northland Avenue.

BUDC has also issued a request-for-proposals for construction management services at 541 East Delavan Ave., with bids due Feb. 20. That building is slated to be occupied by Project Rainfall for a food and wellness operation, developed in conjunction with University at Buffalo's School of Public Health and Health Professions and School of Architecture and Planning, as well as the Westminster Economic Development Initiative.

Even with all of that, Stebbins said, BUDC has three to four potential new tenants looking for space at the Northland complex, but the agency may not have enough right now to meet their needs, without developing or buying more.

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