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Ithaca Area Economic Development to use grant funding for manufacturing-partnership program

ITHACA, N.Y. — Ithaca Area Economic Development (IAED) announced that it will use $31,500 in grant funding to advance its Direct to Work (DTW) manufacturing-partnership program.

The money came from both the Community Foundation of Tompkins County and the Tompkins County Community Recovery Fund, IAED said in its announcement.

The Community Foundation funding will provide stipends for participants who successfully complete the program. IAED will use the Community Recovery Fund money to develop a virtual reality technical-skills lab with “hands-on” training and digital coaching.


The DTW program is an inclusive career-pathway initiative that helps the unemployed and underemployed access training programs, resources, and opportunities to prepare them for entry-level positions with Tompkins County manufacturers, IAED said. It’s a collaboration with community partners aimed at “mitigating personal and traditional barriers to entry while preparing individuals for success in the workplace and industry.”

“Direct to Work helps community members gain exposure to industries in Ithaca and Tompkins County that offer living wage jobs and career advancement opportunities,” Heather McDaniel, president of IAED, said. “We’re grateful for the support for this important program.”

IAED and its partner, Alliance for Manufacturing & Technology in Broome County, rolled out the DTW program in July 2022. The pilot was a six-week, self-paced training initiative with 25 modules through a certified online curriculum.

Participants who completed the coursework and passed the certified manufacturing associate (CMfgA) test received a $500 stipend and were guaranteed interviews with participating manufacturers. Since the conclusion of the pilot, all program graduates have interviewed with local manufacturers and most were placed and are still employed, IAED said.

The participating companies included Therm Inc., an Ithaca–based supplier of turbine components to all the major original equipment manufacturers, specializing in low-pressure and high-pressure blades and vanes for aerospace and industrial gas turbines.



“Therm supports IAED’s Direct to Work program and has already hired graduates coming out of the pilot. We’re excited to continue our participation in the future,” Joanne Finlay, human-resource manager at Therm, noted in the IAED announcement.

IAED says it continues to work on program development and expects to launch another Direct to Work cohort in February 2023.


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