There’s a big, dark, empty room on the sixth floor of Monroe Community College’s downtown campus. It wasn’t always that way.
Todd Oldham, who heads the college’s Economic and Workforce Development Center, says Kodak once used the 50,000-square-foot space as a manufacturing floor.
In a year or so, the machines will be back.
Monroe County will use $11.4 million in state money to turn two floors at the campus into the Finger Lakes Workforce Development Center.
Oldham said the new facility will address the area’s need for more advanced manufacturing workers.
“There’s a deficit, a strong deficit, for all these skill-based production and manufacturing-based workers in our region,” said Oldham.
He said that could mean things like robotics, augmented reality, cybersecurity and other fields.
Oldham stressed the need for a space as flexible as the job market.
“We’re looking at a five- to 10-year plan out,” Oldham said. “We know we need to be able to retool the space as the market changes for what needs to be taught.”
MCC President Anne Kress believes the new facility will make a difference in Rochester.
“This is a space that will support the careers of the 21st-century economy and I’m going to go out on a ledge
and say perhaps the 22nd-century economy as well,” said Kress.
In addition to creating new programs, the college intends to move existing advanced manufacturing and skilled trades programs into the space.
The county, which will manage the project, is searching for engineering and design teams. County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo expects to choose successful bids within nine months.
The groundbreaking on the center is expected next year.