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Schumer Personally Wrote to Department Of Labor Secretary To Secure Fed $$$ For IAED’s Pathways To Employment Program – A Career Readiness Initiative Aimed At Preparing, Placing, And Supporting New Yorkers In Entry-Level Positions In Advanced Manufacturing And The Construction Trades

With Federal Legislation Like Schumer’s CHIPS and Science Act, Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and Inflation Reduction Act Spurring New Investments By Companies Like Micron And Menlo Micro Across Upstate New York, IAED’s Direct-To-Work Initiative Will Prepare The Next Generation Of Workers To Help Meet Current and Future Workforce Needs

Schumer: This Funding Will Supercharge The Southern Tier’s Workforce And Help Drive The Region’s Continued Economic Resurgence

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer today announced $1,173,278 in federal funding through the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) Workforce Opportunity for Rural Communities (WORC) Initiative for Ithaca Area Economic Development’s (IAED) Direct-To-Work (DTW) Pathways to Employment program. Specifically, the funding will help expand and establish new career readiness programs to connect workers to good-paying jobs Tompkins County and the Southern Tier in both advanced manufacturing and the construction trades. Schumer said that because of this federal investment, IAED projects to be able to engage 18 employers – 10 manufacturers and 8 in the construction trades – and expects to place at least 135 workers in entry-level jobs across the two industry partnerships.

“Ithaca and other Upstate NY communities are seeing major investments in advanced manufacturing, but to keep the momentum going, we need to help residents develop the skills they need and connect them with local employers to secure good-paying jobs in growing industries. This federal funding will help propel residents into careers with local manufacturers and the construction trades, empowering them to build a better life for themselves and their families here in Tompkins County,” said Senator Schumer. “Together, we are helping lay the foundation for a stronger economy in the Southern Tier by developing a more diverse, skilled workforce to meet the needs of employers and rebuilding NY’s manufacturing sector to expand opportunity for more people to access high-quality jobs.”

“One of IAED’s three strategic priorities is workforce development. The WORC grant empowers us to reinforce our successful Direct to Work (DTW) training program in advanced manufacturing and replicate it in the construction trades,” said Heather McDaniel, President of Ithaca Area Economic Development (IAED). “Funding from WORC supports the billions of dollars of federal investment in these key industries, thanks in part to the 2022 CHIPS and Science Act, while also improving economic mobility and wealth equity within underserved populations in Ithaca, Tompkins County, and Central New York. It's win-win for our workforce ecosystem and economy.”

“Last year, AMT in partnership with Ithaca Area Economic Development launched the DTW program with great success helping to connect program graduates with local manufacturers. Now, we will be able to expand the initiative serving advanced manufacturers and establish new program services engaging with the construction trades. AMT is committed to helping manufacturers become more productive, profitable, and globally competitive, which includes helping to address the workforce needs of industry. We appreciate Senator Schumer’s support of this proposal and his efforts to strengthen manufacturing across the Southern Tier,” said Carol Miller, Executive Director of the Alliance for Manufacturing and Technology (AMT).   

“This will immediately create a skilled workforce in manufacturing and the construction trades for today and the future. The narrative of who works in these fields will change by further engaging people of color, women, and rural populations. Underserved and underrepresented communities will now have the option of multiple career pathways and living wage jobs. We are honored to grow our strategic partnership with IAED and model this as a blueprint of workforce success in the Southern Tier and beyond,” said Christopher Sponn, Director of Tompkins County Workforce Development.

Schumer explained that this federal investment will allow IAED to accelerate and expand its existing DTW Initiative within advanced manufacturing and establish a similar program within the construction trades. The programs will engage workers across the region who often confront barriers to employment, such as women, people of color, and low-income households. Through the program, IAED, with partners like the Alliance for Manufacturing & Technology and the Tompkins County Workforce Development Board, will help to meet current and future workforce demands related to significant community projects, including in rapidly growing industries like semiconductor production and clean energy. The DTW Initiative is a comprehensive effort to link individuals to career pathways in priority industries, help businesses recruit and retain skilled workers, and foster economic mobility. Schumer personally wrote to DOL Secretary Walsh in support of the program, emphasizing its unique ability to place workers in living-wage jobs in advanced manufacturing and the construction trades.

Currently, the DTW Pathways to Manufacturing Initiative includes connections with many local manufacturers including C&D Assembly, Lansing Instrument, Precision Filters, Stork H&E Blading, and more. For construction trades, IAED will work with regional partners like CenterState CEO, the Tompkins County Workforce Development Board, industry employers, and educational partners to replicate the Syracuse Build Construction Trades Industry Partnership model in Tompkins County. IAED will pilot two construction trades initiatives; one with Tompkins-Cortland Building and Construction Trades Council to build a pre-apprenticeship program that creates pathways to registered apprenticeships and a second with Tompkins-Seneca-Tioga BOCES to develop an entry-level career readiness program, linking non-traditional candidates to entry-level opportunities within the construction trades. In the Fiscal Year 2022 bipartisan spending package, Schumer secured $300,000 in federal funding for the Syracuse Build program to train youth for construction jobs and apprenticeships; a model that will now be replicated in Tompkins County to connect workers with good-paying jobs.

The Workforce Opportunity for Rural Communities initiative is administered by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration and partners with the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), the Delta Regional Commission (DRA), and the Northern Border Regional Commission (NBRC). The initiative, which funds grant projects within the Appalachian, Lower Mississippi Delta, and Northern Border regions, is designed to address the employment and training needs of the local and regional workforce in collaboration with community partners and aligned with existing economic and workforce development plans and strategies. IAED’s Direct-To-Work Initiative pilot was jumpstarted by $31,500 in support from the Community Foundation of Tompkins County and the Tompkins County Community Recovery Fund, the latter of which was made possible by the nearly $20 million Schumer secured for Tompkins County in the American Rescue Plan in 2021. The project will serve Tompkins County and a surrounding 8-county area of the Southern Tier within New York’s Appalachian region.

A copy of Schumer’s original letter to the Department of Labor appears below:

Dear Secretary Walsh:

I am pleased to write in support of the application submitted by Ithaca Area Economic Development (IAED) to the Department of Labor’s Workforce Opportunity for Rural Communities Grant program.

In 2022, Ithaca Area Economic Development, with partners; Alliance for Manufacturing & Technology and the Tompkins County Workforce Development Board, piloted the Direct to Work (DTW) initiative: Pathways to Manufacturing program. This full-time, four-week career readiness program was designed to prepare, place and support under and unemployed individuals in entry-level positions in eight advanced manufacturers located in Tompkins County. IAED has since seen success with all participants starting full-time positions with living wages.

With funding, IAED will accelerate and expand the DTW Initiative industry career readiness program aimed at preparing and placing entry-level workers in advanced manufacturing and skilled trades.

I applaud Ithaca Area Economic Development for its foresight and sincerely hope the application meets with your approval. Please do not hesitate to contact me or my grants coordinator at (202) 224-6542.