Gov. Kathy Hochul on Monday announced SUNY and CUNY community colleges will receive $5 million in funding to support the creation or enhancement of short-term credential programs or course offerings that provide pathways to employment in the cannabis industry.
The funding supports programs that will create or enhance non-degree and degree-eligible courses and programs, stackable credentials, and/or microcredentials that address local employer skill needs within the cannabis sector, a projected multibillion dollar industry with tens of thousands jobs.
Selected campuses must also partner with local employers in the cannabis industry and receive their input on curriculum development.
"New York's new cannabis industry is creating exciting opportunities, and we will ensure that New Yorkers who want careers in this growing sector have the quality training they need to be successful," Hochul said. "Diversity and inclusion are what makes New York's workforce a competitive, powerful asset, and we will continue to take concrete steps to help ensure everyone has the opportunity to participate in the cannabis industry."
Colleges will serve social equity candidates as defined by the Office of Cannabis Management in their local communities.
Awards have been made on a competitive basis within the SUNY and CUNY systems, with multiple campuses partnering with one college, which assumes the lead role.
The three selected SUNY campuses that will each receive $1 million are:
•Schenectady County Community College, which will serve as lead campus with partners Adirondack Community College, Columbia-Greene Community College and Fulton-Montgomery Community College. It is estimated to include over 300 participants.
•Niagara County Community College will serve as lead campus with partners Erie Community College, Genesee Community College and Jamestown Community College. It is estimated to include more than 4,000 participants.
•Orange County Community College will serve as lead campus with partners Dutchess Community College, Rockland Community College, Sullivan County Community College, Ulster County Community College and Westchester Community College. It is estimated to include 200-plus participants.
The selected CUNY campus that will receive $2 million is Borough of Manhattan Community College. It will serve as lead campus with partner Lehman College. It is estimated to include over 360 participants.
Additionally, the New York State Department of Labor and the Office of Cannabis Management will support efforts to expand learning opportunities by helping to connect businesses and job seekers to these training programs. Upon completion, the department will help candidates complete resumes, prepare for job interviews and provide regional job leads.
Each awarded campus or consortium of campuses will be supported by start-up funds for a three-year period.
New York State Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon said, "By investing in quality accreditation programs on SUNY and CUNY campuses, we are empowering New Yorkers to achieve their career goals. This is a win for cannabis employers and a win for workers looking to move into in-demand careers with untapped potential in New York state."
Cannabis Control Board Chair Tremaine Wright said, "I am thankful to Gov. Hochul and our partners at SUNY and CUNY community colleges for developing programs that will help develop a diverse, equitable and accessible New York cannabis industry. As our cannabis industry grows, so does our need for skilled workers, and this is a wonderful way to create opportunities for New Yorkers."
SUNY Interim Chancellor Deborah F. Stanley said, "SUNY educates and trains students not just to prepare them for the workforce of today, but to make them leaders in the workforce of tomorrow. This cannabis credentialing program is an exciting new field of study for those seeking a competitive edge when applying for careers in dispensaries, grow labs, or CBD and THC sales. We thank Gov. Hochul for her continued investments in our students and the future of the New York state economy."
Office of Cannabis Management Executive Director Chris Alexander said, "Legal cannabis in New York means cannabis opportunities for New Yorkers. It's wonderful to see community colleges across the SUNY and CUNY systems help their students develop the skills necessary to be players in this burgeoning industry. This is an excellent step towards helping New York's cannabis industry grow."