Onondaga Awarded $2.5 Million Grant for Agribusiness Food Processing Job Training  

Food Processing

Onondaga Community College has been awarded a $2.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Labor to train students for employment in the agribusiness food processing industry. The College will partner with employers, nonprofit organizations and New York State to develop the program.  

“Onondaga Community College is absolutely thrilled that its application to the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) Grant Program has been selected for funding by the U.S. Department of Labor. We are extremely grateful to Senator Schumer, Senator Gillibrand, Congressman Maffei, Governor Cuomo and Chancellor Zimpher for their outstanding leadership and support of our vision and application. Our efforts will focus on the workforce development needs of local employers and workers in the critically important agribusiness and food industry sectors, one of the priorities identified by the Central New York Regional Economic Development Council. Together with our many partners in business, industry, and in public service, Onondaga Community College will develop and offer cutting-edge educational and training programs that help to advance the economic vitality and growth of the Central New York region,” said Onondaga President Dr. Casey Crabill.

Details on the TAACCT funding announcement, including Onondaga's portion, can be found on the whitehouse.gov website. 

A summary statement from Onondaga's application can be found below: 

Anchored by the Syracuse Metropolitan Statistical Area, the five-county (Onondaga, Oswego, Madison, Cayuga, and Cortland) region of Central New York (CNY) is home to nearly 800,000. Once an industrial stronghold and powerful economic engine in New York State (NYS), the region suffered devastating losses in manufacturing jobs in the 1980s, sparking a downward spiral from which it has not yet recovered. Prior to 2008 when much of the nation enjoyed record growth, CNY lagged Appalachia in population and employment growth. The region suffered another blow during the Great Recession, when 40% of its already shrinking manufacturing base left. The CenterState NY Agenda for Economic Opportunity (2013) plan prepared by CenterState CEO with the Brookings Institution described the landscape left in the wake as follows:

“Decades of de-industrialization left a region of older cities, small towns, and rural communities characterized by low wages, long-term unemployment, hollowed out urban neighborhoods, and obsolete industrial land and buildings…the average wage of $39,660 is almost 20% lower than the national average…In the City of Syracuse, 38% of residents live below the poverty line, among the highest concentrations of poverty in the country.”

In 2011 the CNY Regional Economic Development Council (REDC) appointed by the Governor drafted an ambitious plan informed by comprehensive research, community input, and a strengths-based approach that leverages regional assets to drive growth in priority industry sectors, create jobs, reduce poverty, and spark economic recovery. Today, CNY is beginning to show signs of hope and pockets of renewal, thanks to new investments in promising initiatives, including Work Train, a neighborhood-based, employer-driven workforce and economic development program that links low-income residents to employment in targeted industries. Onondaga Community College (OCC) is a college within the State University of New York system and a key partner in the REDC plan. With nearly 13,000 students and 50 degree and certificate programs, OCC serves as a pathway to opportunity for individuals of all ages and backgrounds. To support CNY’s sector-based strategy for growth, OCC proposes to leverage the Work Train collaborative, which includes local employers, nonprofits, foundations, and the state’s workforce system to develop CNYFOOD, a program to prepare TAA-eligible workers, veterans, refugees, and other New Yorkers for careers in CNY’s growing food industry – in aggregation, value-added processing, quality, packaging, distribution, service, and entrepreneurship. CNYFOOD will deliver these opportunities through a competency-based, non-credit training model rooted in participants' experience and employers' needs. An investment by USDOL will advance the REDC plan, leverage the promising model and remarkable outcomes achieved by Work Train, and increase OCC’s capacity to deliver workforce programs as paths to opportunity for displaced workers and as catalysts for regional transformation.