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SUNY Cobleskill to Direct $2.7 Million Toward Workforce Development Initiatives as Part of the Mohawk Valley’s Regional Economic Development Council Challenge Competition

SUNY Cobleskill will direct $2.7 million of the Mohawk Valley’s $10 million Regional Economic Development Council Challenge Competition award toward expanding workforce development initiatives already underway at the College. The funding, announced last week, comes as part of Governor Hochul’s annual REDC awards program supporting regional plans to transform communities and unlock their economic potential. SUNY Cobleskill will use its portion of the award to expand two initiatives: agribusiness microcredentialing through its Institute of Rural Vitality and the Project SEARCH program through a partnership with The Arc Lexington.

The Mohawk Valley Regional Economic Development Council’s plan to meet the region’s growing demand for tourism, agribusiness, and STEM-intensive industries while prioritizing its efforts to eliminate barriers to employment. The council identified 12 catalyst projects to scale successful programs across the region with a unique ability to engage students at a younger age and open doors to an increasingly diverse working-age population, as well as projects tailored to eliminating employment barriers for persons with disabilities.

Dr. Marion Terenzio, President of SUNY Cobleskill and Co-Chair of the Mohawk Valley REDC, said, “Our plan is all about empowering people, according to their unique abilities, to participate in our communities. It’s about really seeing people, understanding their struggles, drawing upon their passions, and illuminating their path. Our educational community, industry partners, and government and non-profit leaders have demonstrated capacity, positive results, and the ability to scale key catalyst initiatives across the region to address these elemental needs, and this funding from New York State is both a recognition and endorsement of the Mohawk Valley’s true potential.”

Institute for Rural Vitality at SUNY Cobleskill

Through this funding, the Institute for Rural Vitality will amplify its farm, food business, and entrepreneur microcredential program in key industry areas to reach more individuals. The program prioritizes accessibility by compressing course schedules and making credentialing affordable and fast, and with this funding, will credential 240 new individuals at no cost.

The Institute will continue meeting the entrepreneurial needs of startup and existing companies in Fulton, Herkimer, Montgomery, Oneida, Otsego, and Schoharie counties and beyond by organizing and managing business support services through its Farm & Food Business Incubator and Accelerator programs. These services include business, financial, and marketing planning, access to capital, product development, food safety training, process development, scale assistance, wholesale planning, quality control, packaging, land access, and legal support.

Since 2018, the Institute has provided support services to 620 farms and food businesses and helped launch more than 70 new products to the local and regional food market.

Project Search

In 2023, SUNY Cobleskill partnered with The Arc Lexington and ACCES-VR (Vocational Rehabilitation) to establish the College as a host site for Project SEARCH, an innovative, business-driven transition program that helps young adults with disabilities develop job and social skills that lead to competitive employment. The program has assisted 10,000 participants nationwide over the past five years with a 92 percent completion rate and 75 percent job placement rate.

The College is hosting seven interns over the 2023-2024 academic year, providing space for them to learn in an active work setting. Offices and locations on campus hosting interns this year include Athletics, Facilities Management, Dining Services, the Mailroom, and the College Store. Through this funding, The Arc Lexington and its two education partners, SUNY Cobleskill and Herkimer College plan to upscale the program to seven other higher education institutions and also industry partners.




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