RIT Receives $1.1 Million Federal Grant to Bolster Food and Beverage Manufacturing




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Armed with $1.1 million in federal funding, Rochester Institute of Technology is teaming with area business groups to create a regional education and training institute to provide high-skill training in the food and beverage manufacturing industry.

Congressman Thomas M. Reynolds (R-Clarence) announced the grant, which was secured through the U.S. Department of Labor.

“This award will allow RIT to train workers in the skills they need and employers desire in an industry that has shown tremendous growth and success in our region,” Reynolds says. “Business will come to where there is an innovative and highly skilled work force. RIT’s unique program will create that work force and empower local workers by giving them the knowledge and tools they need to succeed in the high-skill food manufacturing industry.”

While reductions in traditional manufacturing jobs have hindered the region’s economy, high-skill food manufacturing occupations have risen by 38 percent since 1983, despite the fact that there are currently no regional training programs or formal higher education programs to address the needs of the advanced food and beverage manufacturing industry.

“The training efforts will address the industry-wide and the industry specific competencies for the advanced food and beverage manufacturing industry,” says Jim Myers, director of RIT’s Center for Multidisciplinary Studies and the principal investigator in securing the grant. “It will focus on enterprise and critical supply chain technologies specific to food and beverage manufacturing.”

The grant was awarded through President George W. Bush’s High Growth Job Training Initiative, a Department of Labor program that aims to address the needs of the advanced manufacturing industry.

The RIT initiative, led by the Center for Multidisciplinary Studies, the School of Hospitality and Service Management and Manufacturing and the Department of Mechanical Engineering/Packing Science, plans to train 600 adults and 175 youth through various programs and industry-supported certificates and credentials.

“This program is important, not only for RIT, but for the entire region,” Myers says. “The current gap in training and development opportunities for this industry would have had long term negative consequences on the region had it continued. Thankfully, this grant allows us to work, together with our partners, to correct the problem and fortify an already strong industry.”

RIT is teaming with Constellation Brands, Wegmans Food Markets, the New York Wine and Culinary Center and its educational/industrial consortium members, Rochester Works!, Finger LakesWorks and the Workforce Investment Board of Genesee, Livingston, Orleans and Wyoming Counties on the initiative.