Central State University is Awarded $3.6 Million by the U.S. Department of Commerce to Support Workforce Training and Business Development in Southwest Ohio

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo announced that the Department’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) is awarding a $3.6 million grant to Central State University, Wilberforce, Ohio, to establish a Workforce & Business Development Center that will serve underserved communities in Clark, Greene, and Montgomery counties. This grant is funded by the American Rescue Plan.

This investment will support the historically black land-grant university’s efforts to provide training and entrepreneurship skills development in the form of workshops and undergraduate programs in the areas of advanced materials, advanced manufacturing, information technology and advanced data management. The economic development initiative is expected to create 300 jobs and generate $1 million in private investment.

“President Biden’s American Rescue Plan helps communities tackle the workforce shortages that were exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic,” said Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo. “This EDA investment in Central State University promotes small businesses sustainability, employment opportunities, and reaffirms the Administration’s commitment to supporting historically Black colleges and universities throughout the country.”

“This transformative opportunity will allow Central State University to enhance the skills of underrepresented minorities, particularly African Americans in the Miami Valley Region, facilitate economic recovery and mitigate the disproportionately negative health, employment, and education impacts on minorities in areas still struggling with the legacy of redlining and the most devastating pandemic setbacks,” said Central State University President Dr. Jack Thomas. “Central State is excited to engage with the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission and other local economic development agencies to execute the project.”

"As a part of my academic philosophy is that universities cannot simply deplete resources from their local communities but must provide and facilitate opportunities for those communities, said Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs F. Erik Brooks. “Seeking and securing external grants such as this is helping to raise our academic profile and will assist us in advancing our research agenda and educating our students in our local and larger communities."

This project is funded under EDA’s American Rescue Plan Economic Adjustment Assistance (EAA) program, which makes $500 million in Economic Adjustment Assistance grants available to American communities. The EAA program will help hundreds of communities across the nation plan, build, innovate, and put people back to work through construction or non-construction projects designed to meet local needs.

“The workforce and business development center is an important opportunity for Central State University to have a transformative impact on the economic lives of underrepresented citizens in the Dayton and the Miami Valley Region,” said Associate Provost for Research and Project Director Morakinyo A.O. Kuti, Ph.D. “The project intentionally targets historically underserved and underemployed populations to create career pathways resilient to future economic downturns since their newly acquired skills are in growing industries. The Center focuses two emerging industries in the Miami Valley area: advanced materials & advanced manufacturing and information technology & advanced data management. The areas of focus were selected as these industries workforce needs include additional credentialing and certification programs, explained Kuti.

Central State University is a public HBCU and 1890 Land-Grant Institution, with a 135-year tradition of preparing students from diverse backgrounds and experiences for leadership, research, and service. Central State ranks among U.S. News & World Report best colleges in five categories, including Best Undergraduate Engineering Program and Top Public Schools. The University fosters academic excellence within a nurturing environment and provides a solid liberal arts foundation and STEM-Ag curriculum leading to professional careers and advanced studies globally.

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 invests in communities and supports regional collaboration in order to create jobs for U.S. workers, promote American innovation, and accelerate long-term sustainable economic growth.

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