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Tool library coming to Workforce Training Center; more space prepped for lease

A new tool library will be coming to the Northland Workforce Training Center, to make sure that lower-income students aren't shut out of opportunities because they can't afford to buy their own equipment.

The Buffalo Urban Development Corp., which owns the facility at 683 Northland Ave., has agreed to buy welding, electrical and machine tools to stock an inventory that can be loaned out to students at the training center so they can practice on the equipment and develop their skills.

"One of the things the training center has found is that particularly the lower-income people have difficulty buying those tools," said BUDC Executive Vice President David Stebbins. So rather than have them blocked out, he said, BUDC is working with faculty from SUNY Alfred State and Erie Community College — who teach the courses — to identify the needs and get the tool library set up as soon as possible.

The cost of the added tools is just over $45,000, on top of prior purchases totaling over $700,000 for equipment that is already installed and being used inside the facility. Another $350,000 in purchases is still pending for senior labs and some reorganization of the freshman labs, for a grand total of $1.1 million.

The funding is covered by a $6 million Empire State Development Corp. equipment grant for the Northland project. So far, $4.26 million has been spent.

"We’re hoping to wrap this up by this year," Stebbins said. "The intent is to make sure these labs are well-stocked and set for the future."

BUDC also approved spending $107,298 for additional electrical connections, compressed-air connections, training cubicles and other changes that were identified as classes have started this year. "After a year of teaching in place, they have a better feel for what is working, what they need, what the students’ interests are," Stebbins said.

Elsewhere in the sprawling complex — which also hosts Buffalo Manufacturing Works and a restaurant — the agency is also preparing another space for lease.

BUDC plans to renovate a third-floor office, totaling 8,539 square feet, to make it ready for either a single tenant or as flexible office space, such as for a small business incubator. Work will include installation of bathrooms, HVAC systems, carpeting, electrical wiring and a small kitchenette, for $730,000.

In other matters, BUDC approved:

  • A $901,635 contract with Apollo Steel Corp. for structural steel, bracing and roof deck work at 541 E. Delavan, as part of the restoration and renovation of the former Houdaille Manufacturing Eastern Plant Building. The contract had been re-bid after the BUDC staff and board rejected the prior set of bids because they failed to include sufficient participation by minority- and women-owned businesses and contractors. The new submission by Apollo — one of five new bids — includes 44 percent minority and 5 percent women.
  • A $26,000 contract with Rodriguez Construction Group for paving and striping of a temporary parking lot at 714 Northland, for use at 537 E. Delavan. BUDC officials expect the site will eventually include a new building fronting on Northland Avenue, but want to use it for cars for now.

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