More than 150 dairy workers have completed advanced training through GCEDC program
More than 150 workers at local dairy plants in Genesee County have completed advanced training programs through a dairy workforce solutions initiative.
The Genesee County Economic Development Center (GCEDC) recently was the recipient of a $50,000 grant from National Fuel’s Area Development Program that paved the way for programs led by Cornell University’s Dairy Foods Extension & Harvest New York teams.
Employees from HP Hood, O-AT-KA, and Yancey’s Fancy recently participated in the training, which focused on food safety, dairy science, milk processing technologies, among other topics.
The training sessions are part of a certificate program, which offers continuing education units. Participants received a certificate of achievement from the Dairy Foods Extension program after passing a post-test and completing course evaluations.
“Training over 150 workers is a major achievement, and we were fortunate to have two great partners in National Fuel and Cornell’s Harvest New York program to provide a direct impact to our local workforce,” said Chris Suozzi, vice president of business and workforce development for GCEDC.
“Last year, National Fuel’s Area Development Program awarded $2.5 million in grants to businesses that are locating to or expanding in the Western New York area, so we take pride in partnering with organizations like GCEDC and Harvest New York to further promote local economic growth,” said Cathryn Hilliard, energy consultant for National Fuel.
“Dairy is New York’s top agricultural industry, so with there being a great need for dairy processing in Genesee County, we were thrilled to teach local employees very valuable skills that will ultimately aid in the growth of the industry,” said Anika Zuber, dairy processing specialist for Harvest New York.
Genesee County’s dairy, food and beverage industries increased employment by 29 percent from 2014 to 2018, supporting operations that have since 2010 invested more than $500 million into over 1 million square feet of dairy production facilities at the Genesee Valley Agri-Business Park and Buffalo East Tech Park.