July 29, 2021

State-of-the-Art Facility Will Offer Accelerated Training Programs for Over 2,500 Students in High-Demand Careers in Advanced Manufacturing, Information Technology, and Various Apprenticeship Programs

New Center is the Model of Co-Locating Multiple Colleges and Private Sector to Help Fill the Growing Need for Skilled and Ready Workforce to Meet the Demands of Regional Employers 

Photos Available from Today’s Announcement Here

Rochester, NY – State University of New York Chancellor Jim Malatras today joined SUNY Trustees Robert Duffy and Christy Fogal, Monroe Community College President DeAnna R. Burt-Nanna, Monroe County Executive Adam Bello, the regional state legislative delegation, and local officials to announce the start of construction on the $11.4 million Finger Lakes Workforce Development (FWD) Center on Monroe Community College’s (MCC) downtown campus. As a regional workforce model, the FWD Center will be operated with industry and partnerships with Genesee Community College, Finger Lakes Community College, BOCES, Rochester Technology and Manufacturing Association, Greater Rochester Enterprise, NYS Department of Labor, RochesterWorks!, and Monroe County. The new state-of-the-art facility will train at least 2,500 students in various in-demand careers in manufacturing and technology. The center is expected to open early 2022. 

The Finger Lakes Workforce Development Center has been designed to focus on short-term and accelerated training programs that place individuals in high-demand jobs within advanced manufacturing, information technology, health care, skilled trades apprenticeship, and professional services. It will also be home to critical training programs for all learners: credit and non-credit based programs and customized training to meet the needs of an employer. A recent survey conducted by the New York State Department of Labor found 48% of New York employers ranked the lack of qualified applicants as their main barriers to hiring.    

“Because of skills gaps, there are critical workforce shortages across our state and SUNY will help fill that growing need. Today’s start of construction of the Finger Lakes Workforce Development Center is a key example of our SUNY for All program—going into communities too often left behind; bringing multiple colleges together under one roof to leverage the individual SUNY campuses’ strength to provide students more opportunities; and connecting students who will be ready for work, with the Department of Labor and public industry partners ready to connect them to in-demand, well-paying jobs,” said Chancellor Malatras. “Thanks to the investment from New York State, we can make this a reality, and start to fill the 20,000 open jobs in the Finger Lakes region. We have to give the community a chance at economic opportunities, and not only provide high-quality education to our students, but set them up for success, which is exactly what will take place at this center. I thank President Burt-Nanna and her campus leadership team, Trustees Duffy and Fogal, Monroe County Executive Bello, our state legislative delegation, and all our partners for their advocacy and support of this project.”

SUNY Board of Trustee Robert Duffy said, “Today’s announcement is a cause for celebration—SUNY is creating clear education-to-career pathways for our students, and helping the economy move forward after all the hardships faced by businesses throughout New York State due to the pandemic. The Finger Lakes Workforce Development Center shows what can be accomplished when elected officials, the workforce, and higher education all work together to support a common goal. Our students who take courses at the center will receive hands-on learning experiences that will prepare them to enter into a job feeling confident to succeed.

SUNY Board of Trustee Christy Fogal said, “SUNY’s community colleges are leading the way in workforce development, and the addition of the Finger Lakes Workforce Development Center underscores how much of a priority it is for our system to offer world-class training programs. We know that there is a need for more employees in the manufacturing and technology sectors—SUNY is answering that call through the academic offerings that will train our students at the center. With accessibility and equity at the forefront of its mission, this center will be a beacon of opportunity for those living in the surrounding areas and help the region bounce back after COVID-19.

Monroe Community College President Dr. Burt-Nanna said, “As Industry 4.0 changes the way all of us live and do business, it’s critical that employers have access to a workforce that is able to use smart technologies in business environments. The Finger Lakes Workforce Development Center will be home to affordable, high-caliber education and training programs that will be accessible to diverse learners across the region, preparing them for in-demand tech-oriented careers that pay living wages and are less vulnerable to future displacement. With a 60-year track record of putting people back to work, Monroe Community College is excited to be part of a regional effort in developing the next generation of skilled technicians and moving the economy forward.”

Made possible by New York State and SUNY capital funding, the Finger Lakes Workforce Development Center is expected to open in early 2022 and anticipates training an estimated 2,500 individuals in the first three years of its operation. The project is budgeted at $11.4M, with $6M coming from a SUNY2020 grant, and $5.4M coming from the Finger Lakes Forward Upstate Revitalization Initiative.

Undeveloped sections on the fifth and sixth floors of the MCC downtown campus on 321 State Street will be renovated to accommodate the 50,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art FWD Center. MCC conducted 22 focus groups with over 80 regional stakeholders and employers to determine the impact of new technologies on Finger Lakes businesses and the skills these employers most need in their workers.

The FWD Center is strategically designed and will not be fully built out at launch in order to support a variety of programs and allow for quick modification of the space to meet the specific needs of regional employers.

New York State Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon said, “Workforce Development and accelerated training are more critical than ever as we work to meet the regional needs of our communities in the midst of the changing workforce created by this pandemic. By giving New Yorkers the skills they need to secure high-paying, in-demand careers, and giving employers a strong, supported workforce, New York is laying the foundation for a positive economic path forward as we recover and build back stronger.

County Executive Adam Bello said, “With its focus on in-demand skills of today and tomorrow, the Finger Lakes Workforce Development Center will truly increase job opportunities for people living in Monroe County and the Finger Lakes region, make our existing businesses stronger, and help spur more investment in our economy and our people. This is an incredible investment in our community, and will be a critical part of rebuilding our local workforce and economy from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Empire State Development Chief Operating Officer and Executive Deputy Commissioner Kevin Younis said, “As the State continues to build back following the devastating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are ensuring New York’s talented workforce is equipped with the skills necessary to compete in today’s dynamic, ever-changing job market. The new Finger Lakes Workforce Development Center at MCC will strengthen companies’ ability to access a robust pipeline of highly-trained workers that will support local business development and move the regional economy forward.”

New York State Senator Samra Brouk said, We know that Rochester is home to an incredibly driven, innovative workforce. The FWD Center will allow our community to train that workforce for the work that the 21st century needs: manufacturing and automation, information technology, health care, human resources, and other professional services. As both New York and the Finger Lakes Region look ahead to rebounding from the COVID-19 pandemic, this facility will create a much needed pipeline to prepare workers for what comes next in a downtown location that is central and accessible. As New York State continues to make economic investments in our region, the Greater Rochester Area is poised to play a growing role in the state’s economy.” 

Senator Jeremy Cooney said, “The Finger Lakes Workforce Development Center will bring opportunity, infrastructure, and workforce training to our community. The training, investment, and development provided by the FWD Center will help build a competitive and qualified workforce, and economic growth, in our region.”

New York State Assemblymember Harry Bronson said, “The Finger Lakes Workforce Development Center at MCC’s downtown campus will advance a vision for talent development and economic agility in our region. As Chair of the Economic Development Committee, I know this center will deliver high-quality programs that align to our regional needs. This investment in our workforce proves that we can provide the skills necessary and that the Finger Lakes Region is open for business.”

New York State Assemblymember Demond Meeks said, “To break the cycle of poverty, we must equip members of our community with the resources and the skills to advance in the workforce. These programs provide opportunities to learn a skill or trade without going into debt. Many people in our community have talent, but just need a chance and they will succeed. Today’s announcement of the partnership between SUNY and Monroe Community College shows that these institutions are ready to invest in our community, and our citizens are ready to step up to take advantage of this opportunity.” 

New York State Assemblywoman Sarah Clark said, “The Finger Lakes Workforce Development Center will be a great resource for our community as we begin to build back better from the COVID-19 pandemic. This innovative center will strengthen the regional workforce through training, educating, and teaching the necessary skills for careers in technology and advanced manufacturing. Thank you Chancellor Malatras, President Burt-Nanna, and County Executive Bello for this investment in our region and our workforce.”

Randy Wolken, president and CEO of the Manufacturing Association of Central NY said, “The Finger Lakes Workforce Development Center will serve as an exciting place for students to prepare for high-demand careers in manufacturing and technology. We know there is a workforce shortage throughout the region and state. This facility and the training programs it will provide will help fill the growing need. MACNY applauds SUNY and Monroe Community College on this state-of-the-art facility and approach.”

Todd Oldham, vice president of economic development, workforce and career technical education at MCC, said, “The FWD Center has gone through many iterations, but is finally moving from concept and design into the construction phase with a planned opening slated for the first quarter of 2022. In terms of COVID recovery and leveraging more innovative and responsive workforce development models that are exclusively focused on the technician workforce, the timing couldn’t be better. The FWD Center will stand ready to support our region in building back better.”

Additional partnerships are in development and will be announced next year. For more information, visit www.FWD-Center.com.



About the State University of New York
The State University of New York is the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the United States, and more than 95 percent of all New Yorkers live within 30 miles of any one of SUNY’s 64 colleges and universities. Across the system, SUNY has four academic health centers, five hospitals, four medical schools, two dental schools, a law school, the state’s only college of optometry, and manages one US Department of Energy National Laboratory. In total, SUNY serves about 1.3 million students in credit-bearing courses and programs, continuing education, and community outreach programs. SUNY oversees nearly a quarter of academic research in New York. Research expenditures system-wide are nearly $1.1 billion in fiscal year 2021, including significant contributions from students and faculty. There are more than three million SUNY alumni worldwide, and one in three New Yorkers with a college degree is a SUNY alum. To learn more about how SUNY creates opportunity, visit suny.edu.