Featured Projects

Through partnerships and collaborations with businesses, unions, other non-profits, educational institutions, and government, WDI is involved in a variety of projects across New York State. We invite you to learn more about some of these projects in the section below and through the dropdown menu.

Good Job Opportunities May Be Blowing in the Winds of the Atlantic Ocean (Statewide)

Date: June 26, 2017

Offshore wind energy is blowing across the Atlantic Ocean and is gaining momentum in East coast states. In May 2017, Block Island, Rhode Island residents began to use electricity generated by the United States’ very first offshore wind power plant. In New York State, power plant developers have expressed significant interest in building offshore wind power plants over 13 miles off the coast of Long Island. In addition, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has set a target for building 2.4 gigawatts of offshore wind energy capacity by 2030. In support of Governor Cuomo’s target, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) is developing an Offshore Wind Master Plan to serve as a comprehensive guide for growing the industry in New York State. 

To provide industry stakeholders a practical, ground-level tool to better understand this industry’s jobs and workforce implications, WDI has published a report titled, New York State and the Jobs of Offshore Wind Energy. The report contains: 1) an overview of the industry and technology; 2) a description of the skills and occupations in the industry; 3) an analysis of New York’s workforce, the skills and occupations already in New York and the existing workforce gaps; 4) potential training programs for New York’s workforce to capitalize on this emerging industry and 5) a detailed case study of the only currently operating offshore wind power plant in the United States, the Block Island Wind Farm.

The report also highlights several key findings, chief among which is the strong potential for offshore wind energy to offer a high number of good job opportunities for those in the areas of building and construction, engineering, manufacturing, and the environmental sciences just to name a few. These job opportunities, however are not guaranteed to go to New Yorkers. To maximize the jobs potential of this industry for New York State, preparation is imperative. This paper seeks to begin this preparation and also provides recommendations for actions that could build skills, create good paying jobs and maximize the potential for the industry.

WDI plans to convene labor unions, policymakers, environmentalists, and other stakeholders to continue a dialogue on offshore wind energy in New York.

For questions related to the report or to request copies, contact WDI at 518-272-3500 or info@wdiny.org.

Opportunities Long Island (Suffolk County)

Date: June 24, 2017

Organization Sector: Construction
Location: Hauppauge
Project Type: Training
Problem to be Addressed, Program, and Results: The third run of Opportunities Long Island, a pre-apprentice training program developed in conjunction with the Nassau-Suffolk Building and Construction Trades Council, recently held its’ third graduation. The program began three years ago in response to a few issues:  an increase in projected building projects translated to an increase in demand for new apprentices, and also many of these building projects included community benefit agreements that stipulate “local jobs for local residents”. As such, the various trades were looking to recruit more apprentices from traditionally underserved neighborhoods. The 8-week program has been a resounding success, with students learning a blend of soft skills (attitude, attendance, taking direction, etc) and the hard skills associated with the trades. The students also had opportunities to spend time at several trades training centers, practicing these skills to determine areas of interest and strength. Last year (FY16), 16 of 20 students completed the program, 13 were offered employment, and 11 are still employed.

This year’s graduation (FY17) saw 18 of 21 complete the program; of the 18, 14 have apprenticeship positions lined up and the other 4 are actively interviewing. Erica Rechner, the Opportunities Long Island Program Director, notes that the program has gained strength and notoriety. Applicants know that they have opportunities to interview for apprenticeship positions, and the Building and Construction Trades know the candidates are coming in with the requisite baseline skills. This year’s graduates have found employment with the Structural Ironworkers, the Ornamental Ironworkers, the Insulators, the Sheet Metal Workers, and the Electricians. The program is truly making a difference in lives on Long Island.  

Blasch Precision Ceramics, Inc. (Albany County)

Date: June 23, 2017

Organization Sector: Manufacturing
Location: Albany
Project Type: Growth Training, Value Stream Mapping/ERP System Implementation
Problem to be Addressed, Program, and Results: Founded in 1979, Blasch Precision Ceramics, Inc produces and markets net shape ceramic and refractory components for a wide variety of industrial markets worldwide. Many of the products produced by Blasch have complex shapes that could not be produced with other existing ceramic technology; several patents exist covering Blasch’s unique processes and technology.  

Blasch quadrupled in size between 1998 and 2015, although Blasch management notes that this was a difficult journey given the economic downturn of 2008-09. Since the downturn, Blasch has focused on product diversification and continuous improvement and has seen year over year growth.  

During the last two years WDI has worked with Blasch on two projects:  the first focused on sales and customer service training in order to address increasing competition from Asia; the second included the implementation of a new Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) system and assistance in implementation of an analysis to ensure the plant layout and business processes were as efficient as possible. It should be noted that the second project was a follow-up aimed at managing the increase in business seen by the first project.  

Blasch management recently reported back on the outcome of the first project and an initial outcome for the second, noting the following impacts:  
  an increase in revenues of 8% from NEW markets and customers
  an addition of three (3) staff, bringing the total plant size to 100; the company is currently recruiting for several additional staff, and even more are projected during the next few years since the new facility layout plan has increased capacity
  a productivity increase from 95/96% to 102%
  reduced lead times for production
  improved inventory management
  a reduction of scrap

The company notes that they could not have accomplished the sales and business process projects without the help of WDI working with the Center for Economic Growth.  

Square One Coating (Oneida County)

Date: June 22, 2017

Organization Sector: Manufacturing
Location: Oriskany
Project Type: Equipment
Problem to be Addressed, Program, and Results: Square One Coating Systems LLC is a job shop metal finishing company that coats metal parts with a wide variety of finishes that provide corrosion resistance, hardness, wear resistance, lubricity, or improved appearance.  Square One serves a wide variety of NYS manufacturers.  The company approached WDI for assistance with the purchase of a specific type of X-ray unit for measuring the thickness of coating; the use of this specific measuring device was being requested by a large potential new customer.  Square One’s president, Lloyd Ploof, noted that use of the machine would allow it to analyze parts more accurately in general, and therefore would be helpful in retaining current customers and securing other new business as well.  Mr. Ploof reports that the purchase of the machine has had a significant impact on business, including the successful acquisition of the customer that requested the use of the machine.  At the time Square One Coating approached WDI for help the company had 8 employees; in the months immediately following the equipment purchase, Square One Coating hired three (3) new employees, decreased turnover by 10%, and increased sales revenue significantly. The equipment also now enables the company to more accurately measure other customers’ parts, helping to ensure customer satisfaction and retention.  WDI is currently working with Square One Coating Systems again to help the company train employees around industry “best practice” standards so that it can secure more business in the aerospace/military sectors.  Square One Coating Systems now has 17 employees and anticipates adding two (2) more positions soon and additional growth thereafter as they continue to pursue additional credentials and new customers. 

Challenge Workforce Solutions (Tompkins County)

Date: June 21, 2017

Organization Sector: Professional and Business Services
Location: Ithaca
Project Type: Equipment
Problem to be addressed, program, and results:

Challenge Workforce Solutions (CWS) is a non-profit that provides a variety of employment opportunities for workers with disabilities or other barriers. CWS contracts with area businesses and agencies to provide services such as food preparation, document handling, and cleaning; these contracts provide employment for CWS clients. While paper shredding has been a strong source of business for CWS, the organization’s aging equipment had made the work physically demanding and prone to frequent slowdowns for repairs. These challenges compromised CWS’s ability to carry out contract shredding work on time and on budget, and threatened the jobs supported by the shredding contracts. Marty Gold, Director of Employment and Vocational Support, noted that “As equipment was breaking down and harder to use, it made it more difficult for some of the workers with the most significant physical and cognitive impairments to complete their work. In a few instances, we needed to reduce work hours and offer non-work activities because these workers were unable to use the faulty equipment”. To address this challenge, CWS worked with the WDI to obtain funding for new shredding equipment. Two new shredders are now installed and CWS workers are putting them to good use. “Not only have we caught up with the backlog but we have been inspected by [Tompkins] County and have been awarded a new 5 year contract,” said Ms. Gold. CWS also reports that the WDI-supported project helped the organization retain 17 production workers and three (3) other staff. CWS has also seen a 23% increase in overall revenue, stabilizing existing contracts and adding others, as a result of the new equipment. Ms. Gold notes that “With the grant we were able to replace worn out equipment that was frustrating to use for both supervisors and workers. More importantly, [the new equipment] gave them a sense of security that we would be able to continue to meet the contract demands with our customers without which they would not have jobs.” The WDI has worked with a number of non-profits across NYS that serve individuals with disabilities to ensure consistent opportunities for employment in settings that allow for personal growth, some independence, and the ability to connect with others.  

Red Barn Produce, Inc. (Ulster County)

Date: June 20, 2017

Organization Sector: Transportation & Warehousing
Location: Highland
Project Type: Equipment
Problem to be Addressed, Program, and Results: Red Barn Inc. is a company that picks up fresh produce from local farms and delivers it throughout the Hudson Valley, servicing restaurants, hospitals, schools, and other institutions. The company had 30 employees but had demand at the door and opportunities to grow further.  The WDI assisted Red Barn with partial support for the purchase of two additional delivery trucks, which resulted in four (4) promotions, three (3) new hires, and a 16% increase in overall revenues. The company also notes that the vehicles they purchased were more fuel efficient, which also reduced costs and lowered the company’s carbon footprint. The company staffing size now stands at 42.

Hub on the Hill (Essex County)

Date: June 19, 2017

Organization Sector: Transportation/Warehousing

Location: Essex

Project Type: Equipment

Problem to be Addressed, Program, and Results:  Incubation efforts that started at the Whallonsburg Hall in Essex initiated the concept and kick-started the community’s need for food processing infrastructure. Using a grant from the Essex County Health Department, local community donations, and volunteer efforts, a licensed, shared-use community kitchen was created. The kitchen allowed 11 local entrepreneurs to start or expand their own businesses. In 2015 a partnership was formed to purchase an underutilized warehouse down the road to expand on this initial success. WDI provided match funding so that the Hub on the Hill (new name) could apply for a USDA grant for equipment to support the initial set-up of the new space. The organization was successful in obtaining the grant, and the Hub on the Hill now houses 3,000 square feet of kitchen space, as well as space for cooled, frozen, and dry food storage, market space, and an event venue. Staffing for the organization has also moved from two (2) part-time employees to four (4) full-time staff members, and has helped to process and store over 130,000 pounds of local farm produce. The increased capacity has also helped to extend the season for locally sourced food in the North Country. The Hub on the Hill is now a multi-use commercial kitchen that can be used by small businesses (food manufacturers and farmers alike) and the community at large, providing a truly central “hub” for local food.