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Getting back in shape: Genesee County BEA steps up workforce program; legislature eyes increased funding

By Mike Pettinella

The director of the Genesee County Business/Education Alliance compares the ramping up of economic activity following the COVID-19 pandemic to getting back to one’s workout routine after a long layoff.

“In a post-COVID world, it’s like turning on the treadmill and trying to jump on at full speed,” Karyn Winters said on Monday as she updated the Genesee County Legislature’s Human Services Committee on BEA activities before receiving word that the committee is approving more than $9,000 in funding for the agency in 2022.

Although the coronavirus barriers are gone, “challenges are still there,” Winters said, speaking of the BEA’s quest to attract local businesses to support its mission of connecting employers with students proficient in the skilled trades.

A program of Genesee Valley BOCES, the BEA is housed at the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce office. It coordinates numerous programs and events focused on workforce development opportunities, including career days, job fairs, Junior Achievement, career exploration field trips and summer career exploration camps.

Winters pointed out that annual membership dues are based on the number of employees at a company and she is finding that it is difficult for many of those businesses “to continue as they normally do.”

As a result, she said the BEA “is leaning on our larger employers” – businesses that have sustained strong financial positions – through its Genesee County Premier Workforce Membership.

She reported that the BEA has partnered with the Genesee County Economic Development Center and GLOW with Your Hands to continue the premier option where members pay $2,500 to $5,000 annually to invest in the future workforce and grow their pool of applicants.

In 2022, new premier members include Batavia Downs Gaming, Bonduelle USA, GCEDC, Liberty Pumps and Oxbo International. Each premier member receives sponsorship status and access to camps and recruitment events.

Winters said the BEA intends to resume the summer career exploration camps that provide middle school students a chance to look at five different industries, such as culinary arts, skilled trades, animal sciences, engineering/technology and medicine.

Through financial support from the legislature and BEA members, she said she expects to hold the cost per student to $95 for the weeklong camp, but acknowledged that costs are going up and finding more funding is an issue.

Toward that end, the Human Services Committee voted in favor of (subject to full legislature approval) a one-time $6,000 payment for summer camp activities along with its yearly appropriation of $3,107.

Winters thanked the committee for the additional money, noting that it will enable her to hire someone to help with the summer programming.

Coming events on the BEA calendar include:

  • Graduating Seniors Job Fair, May 10, 9-11 a.m., noon-2 p.m., Genesee Valley BOCES, State Street Road, Batavia. Premier Workforce Membership employers will be represented at the job fair.
  • Annual BEA Breakfast, May 6, 7:15 a.m., Terry Hills Restaurant, Clinton Street Road, Batavia. Focus is on Batavia High School’s Introduction to Education class that trained high school students to deliver Junior Achievement's financial literacy, work readiness, and entrepreneurship programs to Jackson Primary School students.
  • Fourth Annual GLOW with Your Hands career exploration day, Sept. 27, details to be announced. A GLOW with Your Hands Healthcare event is being planned for the spring of 2023.

For more information about the BEA, contact Winters at 585-343-7440 or

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