Efforts to establish a community college in Erie County are gaining momentum.
On Thursday, Erie labor union leaders announced their endorsement of the proposed project.
As of now, the school is still in the planning stages. If the project is approved by Erie County Council, Empower Erie will work with the UE Local 506, Erie-Crawford Central Labor Council, Great Lakes Building Trades, IBEW Local 56, and AFSCME Local 13 to establish training programs for jobs that are in need throughout the area.
"There will be a lot of opportunity at the community college that aren't currently available within the community and that's the idea." said Ron DiNicola of Empower Erie.
Over the past couple of years, there have been major layoffs in the manufacturing sector, including 1,500 job cuts at GE Transportation.
"It's important to retain and retrain those people for skilled manufacturing,” said UE Local 506 President Scott Slawson. “A community college gives us the ability for a pipeline in getting new manufacturing into this area.”
Supporters say the community college would provide affordable post-secondary education to local workers who have been laid off.
"This will allow us to tap into those programs, and give an immediate pathway to employment to some of our students." said DiNicola.
DiNicola says Empower Erie will finish up the feasibility study of the college in a couple of days. From there, the fate of the school will be determined by Erie County Council.