Hub will be an anchor for workforce development in Niagara Falls

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, and Congressman Brian Higgins today announced that Niagara University has been awarded a $1.3 million grant through the Economic Development Administration (EDA) to bolster workforce development in Western New York. This investment, which the representatives helped secure for Niagara, will fund the renovation of an outdated building located at 822 Cleveland Ave. in the Bridge District of Niagara Falls into a state-of-the-art workforce training center that will provide education in the areas of data analytics, cybersecurity, supply chain management, and other high-demand fields. 

“Building on the momentum happening in Niagara Falls, our vision is to leverage the university’s resources of faculty, staff, and students to engage with residents to create opportunities for growth in their own community,” said the Rev. James J. Maher, C.M., president of Niagara University. “Through this funding from the EDA, along with critical federal and state funding, the Academic Innovation Hub will take a major step forward as we align our existing academic programs and initiatives to bring economic, workforce, and social development to the Bridge District of Niagara Falls. I want to thank Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, as well as Congressman Brian Higgins, for their continued support of this project and the mission of Niagara University.”

“Niagara University is leading the way to supercharge Western New York’s tech workforce, and I am proud to deliver this substantial $1.3 million federal investment to give our workers the skills and resources to secure good-paying jobs building America’s future here in WNY,” said Senator Chuck Schumer. “This builds on the $1.4 million I secured last year to jumpstart this project to help Niagara University transform an outdated university building into a state-of-the-art workforce training center to meet the needs of rapidly growing industries across Western NY. Investing in tomorrow’s workforce today is critical to a successful future, and with these federal dollars flowing to our state, Western New York’s future has never looked brighter.”

“It is vital that New York’s workers have the skills and resources needed to secure stable, good-paying jobs in high-demand fields,” said Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. “This funding will help ensure that workers receive the training to meet the workforce needs of Niagara County. I thank the EDA for this award and will keep working to bring home more federal resources to build a strong workforce in New York state.”

“Investing in a more promising future for all Western New Yorkers begins with improving access to career and technical training that supports in-demand jobs,” said Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26). “Thanks to federal funding from the U.S. Economic Development Administration, Niagara University will provide community education opportunities in high-demand fields like information technology, early childhood education, and supply chain management at their new Academic Innovation Hub in the City of Niagara Falls. This investment will benefit local employers and job seekers by expanding our skilled workforce, while creating jobs that support the needs of our economy.”

This investment builds on the $1.4 million that Schumer, Gillibrand, and Higgins helped secure for Niagara University in the Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 omnibus end-of-year spending package. The funding helped jumpstart the Academic Innovation Hub project, which will help strengthen local workforce development opportunities, childhood education, and other education programming. The university has also received a $1.1 million award from New York State’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) for the project. 

Through workforce development training, Niagara University will offer micro-courses, as well as other short-term, noncredit-bearing courses in IT and other career upscaling skill areas, providing community members the opportunity to obtain critical work skills in a conveniently located, state-of-the-art facility. These courses will support underserved residents in the community, providing critical opportunities to gain industry-recognized credentials to help secure jobs and advance their careers.

Because the educational programing aligns with the NYSDOL Labor Market Analysis for in-demand occupations and the Regional Economic Development Council Priority Occupations, the AIH benefits potential employers and workers seeking employment. The Hub will also track labor market data within the region to develop new courses and career options to meet market needs over time.

The renovation work within the AIH includes reconstructing the entirety of the lower level’s 3,000 square feet into two academic classrooms, meeting rooms, and a computer/technology lab. The newly renovated facilities will house workforce development for career training certifications in information technology, early childhood education, and supply chain management. Students will be able to choose from a selection of micro-courses.

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