Wall Street West Awards $1.6 million for Workforce Development Projects

Initiative highlights 10 new projects, need for improved business continuity education.

BREINIGSVILLE (Lehigh County) - The past, present and future of Wall Street West came together for the initiatives fourth regional meeting at the TEK Park Campus today. Joined by Wall Street West funding recipients, committee members and regional stakeholders, the event was highlighted by the announcement of 10 new workforce development projects totaling more than $1.6 million.

"The Wall Street West Regional Meetings are the best chance for the Wall Street West community to gather and share successes and ideas, as well as welcome new members to the network of initiatives that are shaping the workforce and economic future of Northeastern Pennsylvania," said Matt Connell, Chairman, Wall Street West Executive Committee.

Serving as Keynote Speaker was Alan Berman, Executive Director, DRI International. Mr. Berman leads the premier organization for educational and certification programs for business continuity planning and management. His presentation, entitled "The Future of Business Continuity Education," discussed the types of changes that will need to be made by the business community in order to be successful in this and future economic climates.

"Business continuity planning helps companies stay focused despite the critical events that may arise. It is only through strategic forethought that companies will have viable, long-term success," Berman said. "Northeastern Pennsylvania is not only preparing for the future, but is creating an atmosphere that will allow companies in certain industries to feel confident in their decision to expand or relocate into the region."

The 10 new projects represent the entire ten-county region, which includes Berks, Carbon, Lackawanna, Lehigh, Luzerne, Monroe, Northampton, Pike, Schuylkill and Wayne Counties. As with all workforce development projects funded by Wall Street West, they will receive funding through the federal Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development (WIRED) grant program, administered through the U.S. Department of Labor. The projects announced today will join the 39 other projects receiving more than $8.5 million funding since October 2007.

Six of the new investments are considered Gap Investment projects. These projects focus on creating programs that will strengthen the core workforce capacity that will make the region a pre-eminent locale for business attraction. The recipients and projects were determined based on how they addressed categories such as Educational Attainment and Curriculum Development; Career Development and Pathway Programs; Workforce Development Systems; or Incumbent Worker Skills Enhancement. More than $1 million will be awarded for this round of Gap Investments. In May, $6.5 million was awarded in the first round of Gap Investment projects.

  • The Internship Institute, supported by fiscal agent Northeastern Pennsylvania Technology Institute (NPTI), will receive $375,000 to lead implementation of The Internship Seeding Program. The initiative will establish and ensure quality internship opportunities using a consistent model applicable to all industries. The goal will be to match 50 employers and 50 students with 25 new business sites.
  • Misericordia University will receive $280,500 to lead The Cadre of Executives in Residence Professional Training Program. The project will allow for the identification, training and supervision of 15 Executives-in-Residence to advance the education of an industry-specific workforce. The project will be done in partnership with Lackawanna College, Luzerne County Community College, Northampton Community College, as well as 70 regional school districts.
  • The Lehigh Valley Research Consortium will receive $220,000 to develop the Wall Street West Impact and Assessment Analysis. To help develop a sustainability plan, this project will quantify the impact of the Wall Street West investments to track long-term outcomes.
  • King's College, in collaboration with several public and private entities, will receive $104,503 for the creation of a Bilingual Financial Workforce Certification Program. The initiative will be designed for adult, Latino-English language learners to become bilingually proficient in the basic concepts of the financial services industry, including customer service, information technology and marketing.
  • East Stroudsburg University will receive $60,640 to develop Entrepreneurial Leadership Centers. These facilities will provide faculty, students and community residents with the knowledge and support necessary to make wise financial decisions and be prepared to choose entrepreneurial endeavors or financial services as a career option.
  • United Rehabilitation Services will receive $53,500 to lead a project entitled Integrating Qualified Workers with Disabilities into the Wall Street West Network. In collaboration with public and private entities, the organization will identify and prepare workers with disabilities to have employment opportunities by targeting education institutions and other support organizations.

"Wall Street West is strategically improving Northeastern Pennsylvania by building on its strengths to bolster the region," said Vito Gallo, Co-Chair, Wall Street West Human Capital Committee. "By developing key programs that address gaps in the workforce, the region's stakeholders have demonstrated a commitment to long-term change that will put Northeastern Pennsylvania in a stronger position for sustainable business growth."

Additionally, four organizations will be receiving nearly $600,000 in funding for Innovation Investment projects. Innovation Investments focus on the future of the region and develop mechanisms to enhance relationship building, education, training, and economic development in industries like financial services and information technology. These projects are the third round of Innovation Investments. Previous awardees have received more than $1.4 million:

  • Lehigh University, in partnership with the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corporation, will receive $250,000 to create the Intellectual Property Management Model. This initiative will develop a method for identifying, protecting and commercializing innovations with information technology, financial services and other applications.
  • The University of Scranton will receive $190,500 for the Knowledge Management Institute (KMI). In collaboration with Lehigh University and CEREBRONIX, Inc., the university will expand their current KMI to house techniques, tools, training, proprietary models and practitioners in financial services.
  • The Lehigh Career and Technical Institute will receive $91,832 to create the Pathways to an Engineering Career Program. This project will develop and implement an educational program designed for high school seniors interested in pursuing a career in engineering, with an emphasis on computer, electrical and electromechanical engineering.
  • The Berks County Workforce Investment Board will receive $40,000 to lead the development of Turning on TORQ. TORQ, or Transferable Occupation Relationship Quotient, is an analytical tool linking occupations in order to define gaps needed for people to enter new industries. This project will provide a resource for career professionals to readily identify transferability among job opportunities.

"Innovation Investments represent opportunities to identify the jobs that will be the future of the Northeastern Pennsylvania economy," said Chris Haran, Co-Chair, Wall Street West Human Capital Committee. "The funding we are awarding today can shape the change that will allow the future workforce to work in a wider range of careers."

The 800,000 square-foot TEK Park campus has been a key partner in the Wall Street West initiative. Developed by the MRA Group to be a premiere location for companies in industries such as disaster recovery, bio-pharmaceutical, nanotechnology, electronics, and research and development, the campus currently has 21 tenants. In July, Wall Street West partner DBSi, a leading provider of high availability managed hosting disaster recovery and data center services, announced they would be building an Advanced Technology Center (ATC) on the TEK Park campus.

Wall Street West is a not-for-profit partnership in Northeastern Pennsylvania that is enhancing the financial services, information technology and related industries in the commonwealth through strategic workforce development and state-of-the-art economic development. Stemming from an interagency report by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Federal Reserve and the U.S. Department of the Treasury - whose recommendations make the ten-county region an optimal geographic location for secure data back-up and back office operations - the goal of Wall Street West is to work with firms in New York City and the surrounding metropolitan threat zones to establish supplemental facilities to safeguard data, fund the education and training of a growing workforce, and expand the competitiveness and potential of these industries. The

Wall Street West partnership is made up of the top-tier economic development agencies; technology investment groups; workforce development organizations; education and research institutions; and private sector companies in the region. With the Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Northeastern Pennsylvania acting as the project manager, Wall Street West has federal support through a $15 million Workforce Innovation in Regional Economic Development (WIRED) grant from the U.S. Department of Labor for education and job training, as well as a combined $24 million commitment by the U.S. Department of Commerce, the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development, and private industry to enhance existing infrastructure.

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