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.

A Partnership with the Accelerator Grows Business and Jobs in Orange County (Hudson Valley)

Date: November 16, 2018

Powered by the Orange County Industrial Development Agency, The Accelerator is a NYS-certified business incubator that works to attract manufacturing-based businesses to the mid-Hudson Valley by providing below-market occupancy costs, workforce training, mentoring programs, easy access to experienced professionals, and high-tech resources for its clients. During the last few years the WDI has worked closely with the Accelerator to provide support to both individual companies and to help develop resources that can be shared by multiple businesses.  The WDI goal:  growth of good manufacturing jobs.

The Accelerator has a wide range of clientele, currently housing 15 manufacturers on its New Windsor and Middletown campuses and offering access to its management team, industry professionals, and conference room to several off-site associated businesses.  The Accelerator’s incubation concentration circulates around its manufacturing pods, which are dedicated to fashion design and production, technology, artisan food manufacturing, medical devices, software, and personal products manufacturing. WDI has provided support with a range of equipment and training to help scale up production and create jobs, including a current project that will provide sewing equipment to five (5) on-site companies and sewing training to three (3) of the companies.  The companies have a cumulative staff size of 50 with projections to grow by another 30 employees (with a starting wage of $15.00/hour) as a result of the resources WDI is investing in this equipment-training hybrid. 

The Accelerator has helped several start-up businesses launch.  Local companies Haven, IKRC Custom Technology Solutions, Lucky Bug Clothing Company, and Unshattered are all “graduates” of the incubator part of the Accelerator. Look for our upcoming report on The Accelerator, which will provide details on how the model grows NYS business – to be published in 2019.

Byrne Dairy Implements Training to Complement Growth (Central New York)

Date: November 16, 2018

Located in the Syracuse region, Byrne Dairy is a family-owned dairy business that started in 1933 and has since grown to employ over 460 workers throughout its locations. Byrne Dairy maintains three manufacturing plants and a cold storage facility in the Syracuse metropolitan area, as well as a cultured yogurt plant in Cortland. Out of the Syracuse plants, the Byrne Dairy Oneida Street plant produces fresh milk products, whilst the plant in East Syracuse makes ultra-pasteurized milk products with an extended shelf-life. Additionally, the ice cream center produces ice cream and cookie-wiches. Byrne Dairy distributes its products directedly to supermarkets, nursing homes and gas stations. 

Food safety has always been a priority for Byrne Dairy as any failure to maintain safety has significant potential impacts including loss of product and loss of consumer trust. As Byrne has grown, WDI has worked with the company to ensure new staff have the skills they need to be both efficient and highly effective at maintaining quality. A recent project supported by WDI saw lab technicians, processors, supervisors and plant management build, maintain, and update the plant’s Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP) food safety plan in line with FDA regulations. Designated employees are also developing an extensive understanding of the Safe Quality Food (SQF) code and how to implement requirements in the company’s plants.  

In addition to benefiting the company and its consumers, this project is supporting roughly 30 employees through further training and development around food safety protocols.

Kingston Pharmaceuticals Jumps on an Opportunity for Success (North Country)

Date: November 16, 2018

Kingston Pharmaceuticals (Kingston Pharma) is a developer, manufacturer, and marketer of consumer healthcare products in Massena, NY. In 2016, the company took over a facility formerly run by another pharmaceutical company which had closed and laid off all staff.  Kingston Pharma had plans for growth and saw an opportunity in both the space and the employees. If growth plans were successful, they intended to bring back employees that had been laid off by the prior employer.

WDI provided assistance with a piece of equipment that allowed the company to enter a new market. The results of the project are in and success is evident:  three (3) positions saw skill upgrades, as mechanics learned new skills to operate the new equipment; one (1) staff member was promoted to Machine Operator; and thirteen (13) new staff were added. In addition, other ancillary results were seen, including a 300% increase in revenues overall and significant growth in new contracts. The company also reported that the quality of product improved, and lead time to fulfill orders decreased.

It should be noted that the company overall has grown from 11 employees at the time WDI first began to work with them in 2016 to 71 staff currently. This growth has been important to a small, North Country community.

Western NY Construction Career Day Goes Big (Western New York)

Date: November 16, 2018

The 2018 WNY Construction Career Days event was held on October 3 and 4 at the training center of the Operating Engineers Local 17 in Lakeview, NY. The goal of the event was to expose high school juniors and seniors to careers in the building and construction trades. The event was highly interactive;  students were able to operate heavy equipment, pour concrete, go up on lifts, and obtain hands-on experience with a range of other trade related tasks. Each area was supervised by an Operating Engineer, who oversaw the student’s use of equipment to ensure safety.

This year’s event brought in 927 students from 8 counties and roughly 40 schools. Participating unions included the Operating Engineers, Painters, Bricklayers, Carpenters, Electrical Workers, Plasterers, Insulators, and Laborers. The annual event has grown in size and importance as a mechanism to recruit new apprentices, especially in light of significant projected retirements in the trades. This event has been cited as a viable means of recruiting graduating high school students who may want to enter the workforce directly.

WDI has supported this event in both 2017 and 2018. With the success of the last two years behind them, organizers are looking for ways to enhance and grow Career Days even further. Construction in Western NY is booming, and jobs await.  

A Manufacturing Day Experience for High School Students (NYC)

Date: November 16, 2018

WDI was a sponsor of New York City’s Manufacturing Day 2018. The event was run by ITAC, New York City’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), and hosted by Boyce Technologies which also co-sponsored the event. The theme this year was The Power of Apprenticeships and events featured panelists and speakers from NYC’s Department of Small Business Services’ new program, Apprentice NYC. Apprentice NYC is a yearlong Apprenticeship program in CNC Machining. 75 people attended the event including 20 high school students from Brooklyn Tech, a CTE Department of Education school.

Panelists from participating companies included Dinos Avlonitis from Magellan Aerospace, Charles Boyce from Boyce Technologies, Fred D’Antoni from Architectural Grille, Al Mangels from Lee Spring, and Miquela Craytor from New York City Small Business Services. 

A second panel featured two Apprentices in the Apprentice NYC program: Kysonia Washington from Boyce Technologies and Erikson Duarte from Magellan Aerospace. Both apprentices shared what the opportunity meant to them, how they planned to stay and grow with companies employing them, and their eagerness to learn on the job.

The day concluded with a tour of Boyce Technologies. The company uses advanced manufacturing processes to produce emergency response systems, intercom systems, security alarm systems, radio and wireless networks, customer information display systems and integrated software solutions, mainly for the MTA. Touring their factory is an experience in witnessing truly advanced manufacturing equipment and practices at work.  Providing opportunities for students to experience manufacturing sites such as Boyce first-hand helps young people understand that manufacturing today often incorporates cutting edge technologies and continued opportunities to learn.

GLOBALFOUNDRIES Ramps-Up Efforts to Promote Manufacturing as a Career (Capital Region)

Date: November 16, 2018

GLOBALFOUNDRIES is the world’s first full-service semiconductor foundry with a global manufacturing and technology footprint. Based in Silicon Valley, GLOBALFOUNDRIES maintains manufacturing operations in Germany, Singapore, Vermont, and right here in New York State. The Fab8 factory located in Malta, New York employs over 3,000 workers and continues to grow. It is estimated that the Fab8 location will need to hire over 100 new technicians per year for the next few years. While this sounds like great news for the Capital Region, the company has experienced some of the same difficulties felt by the sector as a whole, which is a lack of understanding about manufacturing in general. Many young adults entering the workforce believe that all manufacturing is “dark, dirty, and dangerous,” and therefore never consider employment with GLOBALFOUNDRIES or any manufacturer. 

Via a partnership with WDI, GLOBALFOUNDRIES is collaborating with a local production company, RogueFX, to change this misperception and improve the company’s ability to recruit production staff. RogueFX will be producing a video series depicting “lifestyles of STEM careers”, to profile four employees who will discuss the work they do, the path they took into their jobs, and the outside passions that their employment allows them to pursue. This project will show viewers that employment with GLOBALFOUNDRIES will help them achieve their desired lifestyles.

This video series will be used as an integral part of the GLOBALFOUNDRIES recruitment process within high schools, community colleges, and universities. Along with promoting GLOBALFOUNDRIES and the Capital Region, the overarching hope is that this video will serve as a pilot for a larger video project highlighting other anchor employers in Advanced Manufacturing in the region.

Comprehensive Career Awareness Becomes a Workforce Priority (Long Island)

Date: November 16, 2018

Across the state (and nationally) jobs in STEM are going unfilled because of a lack of understanding on the part of parents, teachers, children, guidance counselors, and others about the wide variety of occupations that exist, pay scales, and what it takes to get there. WDI Long Island Regional Director Rosalie Drago has made it a priority to develop a multi-pronged strategy to change this situation. In order to effectively build a pipeline of workers and put Long Islanders into meaningful careers, Drago feels strongly that career awareness and exposure needs to be ongoing; embedded in both the business strategy of employers as well as the curriculum in the classrooms. It also needs to be seen as a value to all students – college bound or not.

To that end, October 27th marked Drago’s latest effort in this arena, which saw her working with Huntington Township to bring together industry representatives, parents, teachers, children in grades 9-12, and guidance counselors at a unique career awareness fair. Industry representatives from manufacturing, the trades, IT, healthcare, and the creative sector each spoke about their industries, career opportunities, pay scales, related skills, and education required. Break-out sections allowed the parents, teachers, children, and guidance counselors to go from sector to sector asking more specific questions. Career maps for featured occupations were provided. Connections were made for teachers to help create work exposure/internships for students. Teachers were also provided with continuing education credits. The fair reached 165 students from 8 school districts. This was the first forum of its’ type targeted not only to the children, but also to the adults responsible for helping them make educational and career choices. 

This effort was one of many that Drago helped coordinate during the past year, and others that are just getting under way: 

Curriculum to Careers Program

Drago has facilitated employer connections for school districts in South Huntington, Westbury, and Hicksville. In each district, the school was paired with an employer who presented at the school and then provided a site tour. The employers are also providing ongoing mentoring to both teachers and students to ensure relevant skills are built into curriculums. 

·         Spectronics – 13 students along with the Work Based Learning Coordinator and Business Teacher toured the facility. They met with CEO, Director of Operations and HR Director.  The students wrote an article for the school publication. Spectronics will also be training the teachers how to use the 3D printer at the school to create industry-related school curriculum and projects.

·         Novartis – Novartis visited Westbury and Hicksville High Schools, presented to the Guidance Counselor, Work Based Learning Coordinator and Business Teacher.  This was followed by a student tour including a focus on STEM subjects and their application in manufacturing.

Career Ambassadors for People of Color

Drago is partnering with the Urban League to identify, train and deploy senior level people of color from Manufacturing/Biotech and Finance to visit Long Island’s high-minority schools and discuss career pathways. The ambassadors will help students understand how to prepare for and access STEM careers. Ambassadors will also facilitate site tours and provide mentorship.


Workforce Development Information for Work Based Learning Coordinators

Drago is providing quarterly data to LI’s Work Based Learning Coordinators in several high schools so that they can share information about local careers, in-demand occupations, skills, credentials and educational requirements with teachers, students, guidance counselors and parents.


Drago feels the ongoing, multi-pronged approach being developed on Long Island is the key to gaining traction with this workforce problem. Time and support for facilitation of the effort is the key.

Education Around Safe Patient Handling Directly Impacts Workforce Retention (Statewide)

Date: November 16, 2018

The Western NY Council on Occupational Safety and Health (WNY COSH) and Zero Lift Task Force held a Safe Patient Handling (SPH) conference in Liverpool on October 30 and 31. The SPH Conference is intended as a "problem solving" event for caregivers in any healthcare setting across the state, with a stated goal of minimizing the injury rate associated with patient repositioning and mobility through education.  With significant support from WDI for both speakers and scholarships so that individuals could attend from across the state, the conference participants learned best practices on new and existing equipment as well as a variety of administrative changes that can be implemented in their individual facilities.

The SPH conference was borne out of a program that started at Erie County Medical Center (ECMC) to address lost worker time and increases in worker comp costs that resulted from worker injury. The conference has grown each year, with 370 attending the Liverpool event. Attendees come from a variety of work settings including, but not limited to, RNs and LPNs, Development Assistants, Health and Safety Trainers, Physical and Occupational Therapists, Safety and Workers Compensation Managers, Safety Coordinators, and Administrators. Many are union members representing 1199SEIU, CSEA, CWA, NYSNA, NYSUT, NYSCOPBA, and PEF. With such a diverse group of participants, three tracks were offered to meet the needs of attendees: Acute Care; Long Term Care; and Developmental/ Mental Health Care.

The WNY Cosh event coordinators note that ECMC has fully embraced SPH and currently has 70 SPH champions throughout their facility. The result has been continued and marked decreases in both the # of worker’s compensation claims and worker’s compensation costs due to patient handling injuries. In addition, there has been a substantial decrease in lost work days secondary to patient handling incidents (from over 1800 in 2016 to 83 presently) and ergonomic incidents (from 1500 in 2016 to 32 presently).

WDI is proud to be part of an event that has produced such success. The next SPH Conference will be held at Hofstra University in Garden City, NY on March 25, 2019.

Apprenticeship Discussion Focuses on Variety and Flexibility (North Country)

Date: November 16, 2018

When the North Country Workforce Development Board/North Country Workforce Partnership wanted to hold a forum on solving the middle skills gap using apprenticeships, Executive Director Sylvie Nelson knew exactly where to turn – the WDI North Country Regional Director Greg Hart. Using Greg’s insight into current apprenticeship models around the state (based on his own field work and the counsel of his fellow regional staff), the two organizations created and hosted a forum on the topic for business and education leaders on November 7th in Saranac Lake.

With a tight labor market and most areas of the state seeing a large percentage of the workforce nearing retirement age, the need to fill positions with skilled employees is only growing more immediate. As a means to address this urgency, businesses in New York State are seeing success with apprenticeships and are working with local workforce boards and training providers to find new pathways to apprenticeship. The emergence of competency-based/hybrid apprenticeship models is providing new options.

In contrast to the traditional model of identifying incumbent employees to move-up a career ladder via set internal instruction and training, the new models are more customizable, and allow employers the ability to tailor the education and training to each individual apprentice based on previously attained instruction and skills. Feedback on the new models indicate that the more creative, responsive, and flexible the program can be, the more likely the apprentice will stay on the job and be successful.

Panelists at the panel represented a number of organizations - including WDI, NYATEP, the Center for Economic Growth, CVES/CV-TEC, Clinton Community College, FEH-BOCES, and union representatives from local chapters of IBEW and the New York Regional Council of Carpenters.  Discussion also focused on how the NYS Department of Labor and educational institutions are working with companies and unions to both prepare students to enter apprenticeships (via pre-apprentice programs) and to develop new training programs for those apprentices. 

Panelists noted that an ongoing and close partnership between business and education is essential to the continued success of apprenticeships in New York State. Skills that are required of apprentices should inform course offerings for high school and college-aged students. The more regions act holistically to address workforce issues the better the outcome will be for the future workforce of New York State.

Regional Discussions Examine the Potential for Energy Jobs (Multi-Region)

Date: November 16, 2018

According to NYSERDA’s recently released 2018 Clean Energy Industry Report, there were 151,000 clean energy jobs in New York State in 2017. This represents 3.9% growth from 2016, which means job growth in clean energy in New York is outpacing job growth in the economy as a whole. The growing industry is impacting skills and labor demand/supplies.

On October 2nd, WDI's Rochester and Genesee Valley Regional Director, Lynn Freid and WDI's Energy Program Manager, Ross Gould collaborated with Finger Lakes Community College (FLCC) and Corning Community College (CCC) to host the second annual Rochester Genesee Valley Clean Energy workforce forums examining career trends and skills gaps within the clean energy sector.

The morning forum in FLCC and the afternoon forum at CCC brought together representatives from business, labor unions, local state representatives, community colleges, and economic development agencies.  WDI shared information about workforce opportunities in the clean energy industry, including the number of clean energy jobs in the region and current labor demand. With over 11,000 jobs in clean energy, Monroe County has the largest number of jobs in renewable energy in upstate New York. In addition, 10% of the online job postings in the region are for jobs that WDI has categorized as “clean energy jobs.” Forum discussions also included the types of skills in demand, the “hot” clean energy jobs, and NYSERDA and SUNY clean energy workforce development grants available to businesses and training providers.  The events served as an opportunity for those in workforce development to learn more about the clean energy industry and to make decisions about the types of training programs they might develop.

To close out the month of October, WDI participated in events as part of the Adirondack North Country Association's (ANCA) 2018 Clean Energy Economy Conference in Glens Falls. During this event, Gould spoke about local jobs as a community benefit of large scale renewable energy projects and participated in a workshop where he shared information about NYSERDA clean energy workforce development grants available to businesses.

Gould and WDI’s North Country Regional Director, Greg Hart also led a business roundtable to explore the workforce challenges and successes of clean energy businesses in New York. Clean energy business owners discussed the skills required for successful project development, construction and operation and maintenance. In addition, they shared important information that might not be intuitive. One example: in order to be successful in pursuing solar work, it is more important for an electrical contractor to have skills in estimating, bidding, and project management than it is to have experience in solar installation. The former skills are more difficult to find than the latter.

WDI will continue to stay abreast of clean energy jobs and trends, with an eye to helping to support the growth of this important sector.

National Social Tech Award (Statewide)

Date: November 16, 2018

This year's Close It Summit (Future Meets Now) was co-hosted by Institute for the Future (IFTF) and Innovate+Educate, which brought together experts exploring skills and systems for workers now and into the future.

WDI's Director of Workforce Strategies, Lois Johnson, was honored to accept a “Social Tech Award" presented by Jamai Blivin, CEO and Founder of Innovate+Educate/Close It. Thank you for this recognition and congratulations to Sandbox Collaborative SNHU who also received this recognition! Read more here.

Workforce Leadership Award (Statewide)

Date: November 16, 2018

WDI's Long Island Regional Director, Rosalie Drago, was a recent co-recipient, with Nassau Community College (NCCC), of the NYATEP 2018 Statewide Workforce Leadership Award. Ms. Drago and NCCC collaborated to develop a pre-employment training program for the utility sector. URGENT, short for Utility Readiness for Gaining Employment for Non-Traditionals, offered an opportunity for women to job shadow and engage with role models in the gas, water, and electric industries. The women were also able to earn two industry certifications by completion of the program. Participating companies also gained tremendous value through increasing the diversity of their workforce. See WDI’s Winter 2018 issue for additional details on the program.