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Hochul announces economic development awards in WNY to spur nearly $9 million in capital investments


Tue, Sep 26th 2023 03:30 pm

NYPA board approves $1.2 million for workforce training center to develop automotive service technician program

Gov. Kathy Hochul announced the New York Power Authority board of trustees approved more than $1.5 million in funding awards under the Western New York Power Proceeds program to Northland Workforce Training Center and Top Seedz, a Buffalo-based organic food company, designed to spur nearly $9 million in capital investments and support 53 jobs — with 11 of those jobs newly created.

“The Niagara Power Project is a major catalyst of economic growth in Western New York,” Hochul said. “By investing in local organizations like the Northland Workforce Training Center and Top Seedz, we are continuing to support jobs for Western New York’s talented workforce and helping more New Yorkers grow their careers in the region.”

Northland Workforce Training Center, a nonprofit that supports the training and development of local labor through public and private partnerships, was awarded $1,174,600 in funding to develop an automotive service technician program to help close the skill gap for local labor trained in the auto industry. Northland will partner with SUNY Erie Community College to provide the program, which will cost more than $4.3 million to implement. The program is expected to enroll 45 students annually and will target students from diverse backgrounds and disadvantaged communities. Students will be awarded college credits and a certificate upon course completion.

The NYPA board also approved a $366,605 funding award to Top Seedz, a Buffalo-based producer of artisan seed crackers and roasted seeds, for a $4.6 million expansion project at its nearly 35,000-square-foot facility in Buffalo. The funding will support the purchase of machinery and equipment at the facility and 53 jobs – 11 of which will be newly created.

NYPA funding awards are made possible through net earnings resulting from the sale of unused hydropower earmarked for Western New York that is generated at the Power Authority’s Niagara Power Project and stems from legislation signed into law in 2012.

NYPA President and CEO Justin E. Driscoll said, “As part of its commitment to secure an economically resilient New York state powered by clean energy, the New York Power Authority leverages low-cost hydropower to grow local economies. NYPA is proud to support the development of Northland’s autoworker training program, helping close the skill-gap that exists in the industry and providing tools of economic empowerment to individuals from diverse backgrounds and disadvantaged communities.”

NYPA Chairman and Buffalo resident John R. Koelmel said, “The Niagara Power Project is New York’s largest source of clean, renewable hydropower, and it directly benefits Western New Yorkers by creating local jobs, supporting the development of emerging industries, and spurring large-scale capital investment. Today’s funding award to Northland Workforce Training Center will train much-needed workers in advanced automotive technologies and is indicative of the Power Authority’s commitment to improve the economic well-being of residents in our host communities.”

Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes said, “The pipeline for new automotive service technicians has been further solidified thanks to NYPA's considerable investment in the Northland Workforce Training Center and SUNY Erie Community College. Western New York has an extensive network of dealerships, independent auto shops, and transportation companies poised to bolster their employment ranks while providing program graduates with family-sustaining wages.”

Northland Workforce Training Center President and CEO Stephen Tucker said, “New York state’s Department of Labor projects that, in Western New York from 2020 to 2030, the number of automotive service technician jobs will rise 35%, with a median salary of almost $50,000 annually. As such, Northland Workforce Training Center (NWTC) is excited to add a new auto tech program focused on preparing local residents for technical careers with pathways to the middle class. In addition, this aligns with our new five-year strategic plan further positioning NWTC as one of the premier workforce development organizations in the country.”

Top Seedz Chief Operating Officer Will Brady said, “Top Seedz greatly appreciates the support from the New York Power Authority for our expansion project in downtown Buffalo. This support empowers Top Seedz to continue improving and scaling operational capabilities to meet growing demand for our products, and we remain on track to be operational in our new facility by the end of 2023.”

SUNY ECC Officer-in-Charge Dr. Adiam Tsegai said, “We are excited to be able to expand our successful partnership with Northland Training Center through this funding. With the creation of a city-based training facility, we will increase access to our auto-tech program, providing opportunities for economic development and mobility for our students and their families, while contributing to economic growth of our region.”

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