YOUNGSTOWN — It started as a vision to develop and sharpen the Mahoning Valley’s skilled workforce to meet a growing need in the region, then evolved into something tangible with a $12 million facility, but the work is just beginning.
That’s because “it’s the outcomes that come from this building that are the key,” said Jim Tressel, Youngstown State University president, of the Excellence Training Center at the downtown campus.
The 54,000-square-foot facility on West Commerce Street is considered the centerpiece of the regional effort to create a workforce development ecosystem to meet the growing needs of the region’s emerging high-tech markets.
The one-of-a-kind, two-story research and innovation center has space for additive manufacturing research and design, automation and robotics training, CNC (computerized numerical control) machining classes, metrology and CT scanning, and industrial maintenance training.
In addition, the center has what’s billed as a “Foundry of the Future” that includes advanced mold-making technology and office suites that can be rented by industry partners.
A ribbon was cut Wednesday to open the facility, a celebration that was marked by the Mahoning Valley Innovation Commercialization Consortium and other federal, state and local political and education leaders.
“The ETC is going to be a place … where workforce, education, research and development and community projects live,” said David Sipusic, YSU associate general counsel for research and executive director of the training center. “We’re just one part of an ecosystem here in Youngstown, but this is a chance for this Excellence Training Center to be a shining star and another jewel in the crown of the Mahoning Valley.”
It was funded with $7 million from the state and 5.1 million from the U.S. Economic Development Administration and the Appalachian Regional Commission. The Ohio Department of Education contributed $1 million in operational funding.
Inside, there is almost $10 million in advanced manufacturing equipment.
Already, hands-on learning is happening with youth camps involving Youngstown City School District and organizations such as the Cool Boys, Boys and Girls Club and Red Zone that have started.
Programs there are open to non-degree and degree seeking learners of all ages — youth to adult learners — in an educational and training setting that puts them side-by-side with industry partners. It also exposes users to career paths they may have not otherwise considered, Sipusic said.
“We have designed the center to be a teaching factory, filled with outstanding, cutting edge technology, as well as classroom, lecture, lab and research spaces, where students will learn on real world, advanced machines that they won’t be able to get anywhere else,” Sipusic said.
“On top of that, our industry partners will be right here alongside the students and workers. Those connections are invaluable. Opportunities will be available for K-12 students, Eastern Gateway and YSU students, professionals looking to grow and displaced workers, among others.”
The center is a partnership of YSU with Eastern Gateway Community College, America Makes, the Youngstown Business Incubator, the Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana County Career and Technical Centers and the Youngstown City School District.
It is among several initiatives underway at YSU to provide training, research, innovation and workforce development. Others include YSU’s new online, on-demand Skills Accelerator, the YSU IT Workforce Accelerator, in partnership with IBM, and the YSU Energy Storage and Innovation Training Center to support the battery and electric vehicle manufacturing industry in northeast Ohio.
The YSU Division for Workforce Education and Innovation oversees all of the university’s workforce initiatives, focusing on workforce innovation, education, research and commercialization.
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