Monday, November 21, 2016
Mayor Domenic J. Sarno, Congressman Richard E. Neal, Patrick Sullivan, Executive Director of Parks, Buildings and Recreation Management and Judith Matt, President of the Spirit of Springfield hosted a ribbon cutting for the John J. Shea Bright Nights Technical Training Facility earlier today in Forest Park. The new facility was made possible by a $1.29 million dollar grant from the Economic Development Administration (EDA) with a $1,725,250.00 match of city funds.
The new facility replaced an existing wooden structure built in the early 1970's and will allow the participants to gain carpentry, electrical, welding, and painting experience. Participants in the technical training will also work on equipment used in the Bright Nights illumination festival. The facility will provide a workshop area, two technical training classrooms for work skill development and instruction.
Currently, there is a lack of job training program space available to the population of some of Springfield's neighborhoods. The EDA investment supports the construction of an 11,400-square-foot technical training facility that will provide space to conduct work skills training in the precision manufacturing and construction trades industry. The facility will enable up to 65 new job placements during its first year of operations and over 197 new jobs over a nine-year period.
The City has partnered with the New England Carpenters Training Fund, the Western Massachusetts Chapter of the National Tooling and Manufacturing Association (WMNTMA), the Walker Trust, the Regional Employment Board of Hampden County, Inc., Maybury Material Handling, Mass Mutual Financial Group, Beveridge Foundation, Community Foundation, Roger L. Putnam Vocational Technical Academy and Springfield Technical Community College to address employment barriers and to train workers to fill the shortage of qualified technical job applicants in the region. Through these partnerships, the City will offer educational workshops, incumbent employee training courses and programs, and business management seminars to ensure that the precision machining industry workforce is prepared with the technical knowledge to compete in the global economy.
This training center will provide instruction to city residents for the building trades, and the park system will be utilized as an outdoor classroom for repairs to not only Forest Park but to parks city-wide. The technical training that will be taught here will allow the participants to take their knowledge and gain hands on experience and be job ready for future jobs in Springfield and the Western Massachusetts region.
“Bright Nights has been one of the most successful winter attractions for families in the region for more than two decades. Nearly four million people have visited Springfield to experience the extraordinary holiday lighting display. With the renovation of the former horse stables in Forest Park, the city now has a new skills center that will provide workers with the necessary training to keep the festival vibrant and profitable for years to come. I was pleased to help secure the federal grant that made the construction of this important new municipal facility possible,” said Congressman Richard E. Neal.
Mayor Domenic Sarno stated, "This $1.29 million dollar EDA project plays an important role in our continued economic development and job training efforts. Not only do we ensure to protect the $1.5 million dollar investment of Bright Nights, but we are going to provide space for our residents to gain lifelong career skills. I am very excited for the new opportunities that will be offered to our residents and preparing them for the new jobs on the horizon. "
Patrick Sullivan stated, "We are excited for the opportunity for not only improving an existing structure in the park but also serve the residents with the opportunity to improve their employment opportunities. We are also grateful to Professional Drywall Construction, Barr and Barr, New England Carpenters Training Fund, the Construction Institute, The Regional Employment Board and WB Mason for their commitment to this project. This is another great example of how Mayor Sarno is investing in its park system but most important an investment for the residents to gain life-long skills for career jobs."
David Cruise, Director Regional Employment Board, stated, “In Year 1, the workforce development component of the program will provide training to 33 City of Springfield unemployed/underemployed adults and youth, ages 18 to 26, that will give them the skills required to obtain and retain full-time career pathway employment positions in the local advanced manufacturing companies, and in construction related and building and property maintenance companies.”
Judith Matt stated, "The completion of this project will serve to mark another milestone for Bright Nights at Forest Park. When we set out to produce Bright Nights our goal was simple to create memories for families. Now due to the construction of an improved structure we have the opportunity to improve the lives of families with preparing our residents with job skills. It is also ironic when we installed the infrastructure for this event we went to the carpenter’s hall, the electrical union hall, the Sheriff’s Department and Putnam Vocational Technical Academy. On this 22nd anniversary we have come full circle and I feel we are returning the favor when you helped Pat and I get this event off the ground. On behalf of the Board of the Spirit of Springfield, we welcome you in joining the Bright Nights Family.”
About the U.S. Economic Development Administration (www.eda.gov)
The mission of the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) is to lead the federal economic development agenda by promoting competitiveness and preparing the nation's regions for growth and success in the worldwide economy. An agency within the U.S. Department of Commerce, EDA makes investments in economically distressed communities in order to create jobs for U.S. workers, promote American innovation, and accelerate long-term sustainable economic growth.