Higgins, Poloncarz & Brown Announce Over $8 Million for Buffalo & Erie County Workforce Investment Board
Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26) was joined by Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz and City of Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown to announce that the Buffalo & Erie County Workforce Investment Board (WIB) has been awarded a federal grant through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) totaling over $8 million. The funding, provided through the Health Profession Opportunity Grant program, will help train and place Western New Yorkers in health related jobs.
“This is a significant investment in Western New York workers seeking valuable employment opportunities in growing medical fields across the region and particularly at the thriving Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus,” said Congressman Higgins, who wrote a letter of support for the grant. “We commend the Workforce Investment Board for their initiative, collaboration with education and job training leaders like Erie Community College and for the work they do each and every day to promote job opportunity and placement.”
Heather Okoro, Executive Director of the Buffalo & Erie County Workforce Investment Board, added, “We are thrilled to continue a successful HPOG collaboration that prepares individuals for demand driven employment in allied healthcare jobs offering advancement opportunities and career ladders.”
The Health Profession Opportunity Grant (HPOG) program is administered through the HHS Office of Family Assistance and authorized by the Affordable Care Act. The program serves the dual need of providing education and employment training to low income individuals and helping to fill labor shortages in high demand occupations.
“As the health care field expands here in Erie County, it is important to provide a work force that is skilled and ready to handle the positions that will be in demand,” said County Executive Mark Poloncarz. Thanks to Congressman Higgins and this $8 million grant, the WIB will now be able to train and educate more residents for positions at the growing Buffalo Niagara medical campus or at other local healthcare facilities searching for qualified workers. Skill sets of all types will be in demand, and with this grant we are strengthening our workforce, diversifying our economy, and building a better Erie county.”
“Training the next generation of healthcare workers will not only strengthen the delivery of medical services in Buffalo, but also translates to high-skilled workers contributing to the local economy for years to come,” said City of Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown. “I thank Congressman Brian Higgins for helping to secure this significant $8 million investment as we work together and in partnership with the Buffalo & Erie County Workforce Investment Board to create even more opportunity for city residents and others who seek valuable employment opportunities in Buffalo.”
The Buffalo & Erie County WIB intends to work with Erie 1 BOCES, Erie 2 BOCES and Erie Community College to facilitate training in fields ranging from: Licensed Practical Nurse (LPN) and pharmacy technician to medical secretary and certified nursing assistant/home health aide (CNA/HHA).
“ECC strives to continue as a local leader in both classroom-to-career programs and job training,” said Jack Quinn, President of Erie Community College. “We’re continuously focused on finding ways to support both businesses and workers striving to move our Western New York economy forward. This federal grant will certainly aid us in this mission, and we applaud the tireless efforts of our local representatives and the Buffalo & Erie County Workforce Investment Board.”
The Workforce Investment Board will receive $1,600,885 annually for a 5-year period ending September of 2020. Through a previous HPOG award WIB has been able to train more than 1,200 Western New Yorkers in demand driven health occupations.
Established by Congress through the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, Workforce Investment Boards assist job seekers and businesses in search of qualified applicants through a vast array of services. Members of the private sector driven board are appointed by the County Executive and Mayor. For more information on the Buffalo & Erie County Workforce Investment Board visit: http://www.becwib.org .