Operations Manager, Chris Barber represented Franklin Bronze as one of four manufacturers in northwestern Pennsylvania to participate in a roundtable discussion focusing on economic development in the region. The discussion was held in conjunction with the presentation of a $1.2M grant announced by U.S. Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia and awarded to the Education & Training Hub at the University of Pittsburgh at Titusville.
U.S. Secretary of Labor, Eugene Scalia stated that “Manufacturing is the 2nd largest industry in northwestern Pennsylvania, accounting for 16% of the area’s workforce. This grant will help put regions like northwestern Pennsylvania back on the path toward economic growth.”
The Workforce Opportunity for Rural Communities (WORC) grant was developed to foster economic prosperity by supporting initiatives designed to create gainful employment options and provide advanced training opportunities.
Through this grant, Pitt-Titusville will work with industry and community partners to promote new, sustainable job opportunities and long-term economic vitality in rural areas. Part of the funds will be used to purchase equipment for the Manufacturing Assistance Center (MAC), guided by Pitt’s Swanson School of Engineering.
“Our Education and Training Hub is a transformational project,” said Dr. Catherine Koverola, president of Pitt-Titusville, “that will reduce the effects of structural poverty in northwestern Pennsylvania by enhancing the business ecosystem. The hub will provide training, equipping the region’s residents with critical skills and enabling them to meet workforce needs.”
According to Chris Barber, Operations Manager at Franklin Bronze Precision Components, “Rapid economic growth prior to the Covid slowdown exposed the need for training opportunities for workers entering the manufacturing workforce in rural areas. This discussion gave manufacturers like Franklin Bronze the chance to express to Secretary Scalia the necessity for federal financial support as public schools are removing industrial technology from their curriculum. Without this support, rural manufacturers will struggle to develop their workforce at a rate that meets demand.”
Franklin Bronze is proud to have been a part of this event and is excited to see this funding put towards training for manufacturing in northwestern Pennsylvania to provide the necessary skills for future employees. “We place great value on our employees and anticipate that when the economy rebounds from the Covid slowdown, Franklin Bronze will have a need for additional locally trained team members and will benefit from the WORC grant.”