Blackstone Valley Chamber of Commerce Awarded Skills Capital Grant

October 16th 2017 BOSTON – Representatives David K. Muradian, Jr. (R-Grafton), Joseph D. McKenna (R-Webster) and Kevin J. Kuros (R-Uxbridge), along with Senators Michael O. Moore (D-Millbury) and Ryan C. Fattman (R-Webster) are excited to announce that the Blackstone Valley Chamber of Commerce Central Massachusetts Center for Business and Enterprise has been awarded a Massachusetts Skills Capital Program Grant.

The Blackstone Valley Chamber of Commerce Central Massachusetts Center for Business and Enterprise is expected to receive a $456,320 grant. The Chamber itself is partnering with Quinsigamond Community College, Worcester State University’s Center for Business and Industry and Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology to implement a vocational/technical training program. These funds will help more than 650 students obtain vocational certificates and will allow for the Chamber to purchase the proper tools needed to train the students. Some of which include CAD computers and software, 3D printers and the creation of a mini-Fab Lab. 

“This grant is a game changer for the Blackstone Valley! The people and businesses of the Valley have been waiting 30 years to bring a higher learning institution to our region.  We will finally have the ability to move forward and establish a partnership with Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology, Worcester State University and Quinsigamond Community College to implement a vocational/technical training program for the manufacturing industry,” said President of the Blackstone Valley Chamber, Jeannie Hebert. “We owe a great debt of gratitude to our all of our Valley legislators especially Representative David Muradian and Senator Michael Moore. This award would not have happened without them!”

“The Blackstone Valley Chamber of Commerce will always be a tremendous asset to Grafton, Northbridge, Upton and the Blackstone Valley as a whole,” said Representative Muradian. “Their dedication to educating young minds and adding to the workforce is inspiring. I am confident that this grant and joint partnership will impact not only the students and institutions, but also the entire Commonwealth. This has been a long time in the making and I am excited to see the dream becoming a reality.”

For several years, the Blackstone Valley Chamber of Commerce has been working with skilled manufacturers to address the lack of workforce readily available. During this time it became obvious that in order to address this problem, schools and curriculums needed to change and become more opportunistic for students interested in vocational programs. The Blackstone Valley Chamber of Commerce then partnered with the Benjamin Franklin Institute and the Worcester State University Center for Business and Industry to promote and assist the growth and development of such program. 

“This funding will support many exciting opportunities for students, manufacturers and the regional economy,” said Senator Moore.  “I commend Jeannie Hebert at the Blackstone Valley Chamber of Commerce for her tireless efforts to bring this this project to fruition.  The Blackstone Valley is the birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution and this grant funding seeks to address the very real need for expanding manufacturing educational opportunities in the region.”

“These funds are critically important to help maintain innovation in our economy by providing students with the education they need,” said Fattman.

The Baker-Polito Administration established the Workforce Skills Cabinet shortly after taking office in an effort to increase the capacity and quality of vocational training and education in the Commonwealth. They teamed up with the Secretariats of Education, Labor and Workforce Development and Housing and Economic Development to align education, economic development and workforce policies. While doing so, they strategized on how to meet employers’ demand for skilled workers throughout Massachusetts. 

"The Blackstone Valley Chamber of Commerce never rests on its mission to provide employment services and resources to those in the Blackstone Valley," said Representative McKenna. "I am thrilled that the Administration has also recognized their efforts and provided this funding for a partnership with several state schools to advance vocational/technical training programs specifically for the manufacturing industry which built the Valley in the first place."

"This grant underscores the Baker / Polito administration's commitment to the manufacturing sector," said Representative Kuros. "The Blackstone Valley is deeply steeped in manufacturing history, and I'm delighted that another generation will gain exposure to the industry that was once, and can again be, the fabric of our economy." 

This is the second year that the Administration has awarded Skills Capital Grants. Since the creation of this program, more than $36 million has been awarded to 78 different educational institutions.

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