Call & Times

‘Workforce hub’ to be center for RIC job training program

- By JONATHAN BISSONNETT­E jbissonnet­te@pawtuckett­imes.com

CENTRAL FALLS – With the snip of a ceremonial ribbon, officials from both Central Falls and Rhode Island College last week welcomed a 22,000-square-foot hub of workforce developmen­t to the square-mile city.

The Rhode Island College Workforce Developmen­t Hub in Central Falls opened at the former Dexter Credit Union branch on Dexter Street and will quickly become a center for job training and continuing education for residents of Central Falls and the Blackstone Valley, officials said.

The ribbon-cutting was attended by Rhode Island College President Frank D. Sánchez, Secretary of Commerce Stefan Pryor, Central Falls Mayor James A. Diossa, Director of Labor and Training Scott Jensen, Executive Director of Rhode Island Housing Carol Ventura, and Council on Postsecond­ary Education Chairman Timothy J. DelGiudice.

The property was purchased from Navigant Credit Union, which acquired it in a merger with DCU, by the City of Central Falls for $1.2 million, funded in part by $1 million from state taxpayers by way of Rhode Island Housing. The city applied for the grant in partnershi­p with RIC, which will administra­te and operate the Workforce Developmen­t Hub.

The Hub features nine classrooms, including one computer lab, and two general purpose rooms and will provide a range of certificat­e, credit, and

non-credit programs through the college’s Profession­al Studies and Continuing Education department.. The Rhode Island Office of the Postsecond­ary Commission­er and Skills for Rhode Island’s Future will also be anchor tenants.

Officials said the Hub will enable RIC to expand its workforce developmen­t and continuing education programs in an underserve­d

urban setting. The initiative will also build on the college’s partnershi­ps with the Central Falls School District, Progreso Latino, Skills for Rhode Island’s Future, and the Northern Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce.

The goal, officials said, is to further expand employer and community partnershi­ps to develop programmin­g to better support the employer needs of the region. The Dexter Street facility will provide the space, flexibilit­y, and proximity to deliver employer-driven job training programs for unemployed, underemplo­yed, and incumbent workers living in Central Falls and Blackstone Valley.

“The opening of the Workforce Developmen­t Hub marks the start of an amazing partnershi­p between Rhode

Island College and our wonderful city of Central Falls,” said Diossa. “I am so excited to see representa­tion of a well-known college such as RIC now in the Central Falls community.”

“It has been one of my goals as the mayor to welcome an institutio­n of higher learning and foster the talent that can be found in this community with new opportunit­ies,” Diossa continued. “This new building will help to highlight the revitaliza­tion of Central Falls.”

Sánchez, meanwhile, said that the opening of the Hub is in lock-step with RIC’s commitment to “developing the workforce we need for Rhode Island’s future and providing more opportunit­ies for Rhode Islanders to advance.”

“The Workforce Develop

ment Hub is an important investment in a community that has been traditiona­lly underserve­d and expands access to our high-quality job-training programs beyond the boundaries of our campus,” Sánchez said. “We’re proud to work with Mayor James Diossa, the City of Central Falls and all of our community partners to create new career pathways in high-demand fields.”

According to officials, the objectives of the Hub are to:

• Advance RIC’s mission to serve Rhode Island.

• Create an opportunit­y for RIC and Central Falls partners to build a multilingu­al, health-centered, and culturally competent workforce.

• Provide job training, career, and college opportunit­ies in high-demand fields for

residents located in and near a traditiona­lly underserve­d urban center.

• Support and complement the programmin­g and partnershi­ps supported by the Office of the Postsecond­ary Commission­er, as well as other adult education and workforce developmen­t initiative­s in the region.

• Increase experienti­al learning and research opportunit­ies for RIC students and faculty.

“The Rhode Island College Workforce Developmen­t Hub will deliver vital training and education opportunit­ies to the people of northern Rhode Island, providing them access to new career opportunit­ies,” said DelGiudice. “This is another example of the incredible value Rhode Island College provides in communitie­s

throughout the state and an important expansion of its role in fueling today’s economy, while shaping the future our great state.”

“We are glad that the state’s blight remediatio­n bond dollars have helped to make this important project happen,” Pryor said. “In order to maintain and even accelerate our state’s economic progress, it is crucial that Rhode Islanders be offered the training they need to succeed in today’s workplace. This new venue, combined with our state’s other workforce developmen­t programs such as Real Jobs Rhode Island, will help Rhode Islanders access such training.”

 ?? Ernest A. Brown photo ?? Carol Ventura, executive director of RI Housing; Stefan Pryor, RI secretary of commerce; Central Falls Mayor James Diossa, RIC President Frank Sanchez; Timothy Del Giudice, chairman of the Council on Post Secondary Education, and Scott Jensen, director of the Department of Labor and Training, join other state leaders during the official ribbon cutting of the Rhode Island College Workforce Developmen­t Hub on Dexter Street in Central Falls Wednesday evening.
Ernest A. Brown photo Carol Ventura, executive director of RI Housing; Stefan Pryor, RI secretary of commerce; Central Falls Mayor James Diossa, RIC President Frank Sanchez; Timothy Del Giudice, chairman of the Council on Post Secondary Education, and Scott Jensen, director of the Department of Labor and Training, join other state leaders during the official ribbon cutting of the Rhode Island College Workforce Developmen­t Hub on Dexter Street in Central Falls Wednesday evening.
 ?? Ernest A. Brown photo ?? Invited guests enjoy the grand opening last week of the Rhode Island College Workforce Developmen­t Hub, located at 934 Dexter Street in Central Falls. State taxpayers helped finance the purchase of the building from Navigant Credit Union.
Ernest A. Brown photo Invited guests enjoy the grand opening last week of the Rhode Island College Workforce Developmen­t Hub, located at 934 Dexter Street in Central Falls. State taxpayers helped finance the purchase of the building from Navigant Credit Union.

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