by Tom Kucharski, President & CEO
On August 5th, I had the pleasure of representing BNE at the 2014 White House Forum on Economic Development, hosted by the International Economic Development Council (IEDC) and SelectUSA. This provided an opportunity to directly engage with White House and high-level administration officials, as well as colleagues and IEDC leaders. Despite some well-documented congressional “gridlock,” SelectUSA is one program that everyone can agree on and is providing much-needed centralized services to potential foreign investors.
I was struck by the progressive and open-minded nature of this group and how receptive they are to helping organizations across the country create solutions to a variety of challenges. Discussions and forums focused on economic strategies and common concerns – specifically, the critical need for better workforce development training programs and initiatives.
In Buffalo Niagara, we’re faced with two considerable hurdles: an aging workforce and a deficit in employees prepared for the high tech and advanced manufacturing industries we strive to attract. One key takeaway from the conference is the critical need for institutions of higher learning to collaborate with the business community to create job-training programs for the 21st Century because this industry cluster is where the jobs are now and will be in the future.
The good news is thanks to an open dialogue with the educational institutions in our region as well as the pool of talent they attract, we have a golden opportunity to create the kind of meaningful job training programs that are in sync with today’s businesses’ workforce needs and tomorrow’s jobs. And that’s good news for BNE’s investors and all of Western New York.