Schumer-Backed $$ Will Give Waverly Teens Opportunity To Gain Skills For In-Demand Jobs In Sectors From Clean-Energy To HVAC To Transportation; Boosting Southern Tier Workforce To Support Many Expanding Companies

Thanks To Senator’s Funding, Now Aging, Vacated Chemung School Building Will Become A New Place Of Opportunity For Children Of The Southern Tier 

Schumer: Investment In Southern Tier Youth Will Lay The Foundation For The Future Economic Growth Of The Region

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer today announced that he has secured $2,750,113 for the Waverly Central School District to transform the vacant Chemung Elementary School into the Chemung Center For Innovation, which will host programs to give student hands-on STEM job training to enter in-demand jobs in the Southern Tier. The funding was secured by Schumer as a part of the bipartisan omnibus spending package for Fiscal Year 2022. Schumer said this new center, once completed, will bolster the economy of a critically underserved rural area of the Southern Tier, helping students get the skills needed to obtain good-paying careers and strengthening the region’s workforce to support the growth and success of local businesses.

“This major investment is truly wonderful news for the Waverly Central School District, our growing Upstate New York businesses, and most importantly the students in the Southern Tier who will be prepared for good-paying jobs because of this program. A once abandoned school building will now be transformed into a site for job training and learning that will connect Southern Tier youth to new job opportunities to help grow the region’s economy after graduation,” said Senator Schumer. “From clean energy to transportation, industry across the Southern Tier is growing and this new center will help lay the foundation for the next generation to enter these in-demand fields. I am proud to have secured this over $2.75 million in federal funding for the Waverly Central School District, investing in our kids and the Southern Tier’s future.” 

“Four years ago, our school team sat at a table and looked at attendance, graduation rate and discipline issues. The picture was gloomy. We needed to do something different…something more. Our children needed to see they could build, manage, and create. We needed to get out of the classroom and into the community. This has led to many partnerships including business, government, and private citizens. The infusion of aid from Senator Schumer will allow us to buy the materials and continue this work by teaching clean energy technology, developing agribusinesses, and building transportation simulators,” said Dr. Eric Knolles, Waverly CSD Superintendent. “Our goal is to graduate kids who know academic content and can apply it to their community. The only people coming to save the economy of the Southern Tier are the children raised here. There is no other answer. Thank you to Senator Schumer, his staff and all of the supporters of the program in both Tioga and Chemung Counties.”

“The Village of Waverly supports the development of the Chemung Innovation Center located at the vacant Chemung Elementary School and appreciates Senator Schumer securing a $2.75 million dollar grant for the project. Workforce development in STEM related employment opportunities is vital to the well-being of the greater Waverly/Chemung community,” said Patrick Ayres, Mayor Village of Waverly. “The potential options for private/public partnerships with local businesses will only provide greater opportunities for the students enrolled in the program to achieve success. This Center will positively benefit the quality of life for the students and residents of the area for years to come. The Village of Waverly is ready to partner with the Waverly Central School District to help ensure the success of the Chemung Innovation Center.”

Schumer explained that the proposed Chemung Center for Innovation will feature an inquiry and work-based learning program at the school where students would be enrolled for half of the day to get specialized training and hands-on experience for in-demand local industries in the Southern Tier and Upstate New York, including clean energy, transportation technology, agriculture, and HVAC systems. The Center would operate out of the currently abandoned Chemung Elementary School which closed in 2016, but remains a part of the Waverly Central School District. The school plans to partner with local businesses to develop the curriculum offered, ensuring the programming is meeting the needs of the region’s employers and boosting the ability of participating students to secure a good-paying job upon graduation from high school.

Senator Schumer has a long history of supporting industry growth and workforce training in the Southern Tier. Schumer previously helped deliver a $150,000 Appalachian Regional Commission grant for Waverly’s Chemung Center for Innovation when the project was in the early planning phases. In addition, last year, Schumer announced that following his direct advocacy, the Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) selected the Binghamton University-led New Energy New York battery manufacturing project as a Phase 1 awardee and finalist for investment through the American Rescue Plan’s Build Back Better Regional Challenge. This will allow the region to develop its proposal to compete for a Phase 2 implementation grant, worth up to $100 million, to expand research, development, testing, and workforce assets to meet the demand of the emerging battery manufacturing industry in the Southern Tier and Upstate NY.

Community leaders shared their strong support for the project and thanked Senator Schumer for securing the funding to support the Chemung Innovation Center:

Elizabeth H. McIntosh. Director of Elementary Curriculum, Instruction and Special Projects said, “We are ecstatic to have the support of Senator Schumer’s office for the Innovation Center.  Waverly CSD believes that our students need increased options and access to learning that prepares them for the demands of the work force.  We have surveyed numerous businesses and read numerous trade publications and it points to shortages in STEM careers in our area and across the United States.  That is reason we focused on STEM.  As we narrowed down the scope and looked at possible business partnerships, we knew that we needed to focus on clean energy solutions, agriculture, and transportation infrastructure.  It is our intent to provide graduates with the skills to leave high school with the doors to the world of employment wide open.  Not only will our kids be able to be employed but they can earn a living wage.  All Americans should be entitled to this.”

"The impact this center will have on the business community is immeasurable. Local employers will have the opportunity to grab home-grown talent and assist in the development of today’s youth. In turn, those students will be able to enter the workforce with a skillset not normally acquired and will be more likely to put those skills to use locally. The implementation of this Center of Innovation is a win-win for the local community businesses and the students who will be gaining the modern technological skills to compete in today’s business climate," said Cameron VanNorman, President, Waverly Business Association.

“In anticipation of the generous support Senator Schumer has been fighting for, the Waverly Central School District has been actively working to bring the former Chemung Elementary School out of the mothballs. It is now cleaned up, functional and hosting a few technology classes to plant the seed for our students. With these additional funds, we can move further, faster in leveraging this nearly 32,000 square foot facility to become an emerging technology education center that will not only benefit Waverly students but other students in our region as well,” said Jack Wiiki, M.S.E.E. and MBA, Former Van Etten Town Judge and Committee Member.



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