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USDOL awards OCC $2.5M for food-process job training

Casey Crabill, president of Onondaga Community College, on Tuesday addressed questions from reporters on a $2.5 million grant that the U.S. Department of Labor awarded the school for job training in the agribusiness food-processing industry. (Eric Reinhardt / BJNN)

ONONDAGA, N.Y. — The U.S. Department of Labor (USDOL) has awarded Onondaga Community College (OCC) a $2.5 million grant for job training in the agribusiness food-processing industry.

The funding comes from the USDOL’s Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant program, OCC said in a news release.

The school plans to focus on the workforce-development needs of local employers and workers in the agribusiness and food-industry sectors.


It’s a “growing field,” Casey Crabill, OCC president, said in speaking with reporters on Tuesday morning.

“It was cited in our region’s economic-development plan as a field for the future. I think that’s part of the reason our grant was successful is that we’re very tied in to a lot of community efforts in this industry already,” said Crabill.

OCC plans to refer to its program as the CNY Future Opportunities Onondaga Delivers Pathway Initiative (CNYFOOD), according to a news release about the OCC grant funding that the office of U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D–N.Y.) distributed on Monday.

The school plans to partner with employers, nonprofit organizations, and the state of New York to develop the program, Crabill said.

The federal funding become available on Wednesday, the first day of October and the beginning of the federal government’s new fiscal year.

“The first year is essentially a planning and curriculum-development year,” said Crabill.

The school hopes to create five “competency-based” learning programs that include food science, safety, and quality assurance; food production and processing; distribution and logistics; “train the trainer” supervisory training; and hospitality and food service, according to an OCC news release on grant.

Those completing the program will have the skills to pursue more than 2,400 annual openings in Central New York and an estimated total of more than 12,600 jobs by 2020 at wage rates that “exceed regional averages for entry- and medium-skilled workers,” according to OCC.

The school has partnered with area employers on the job-training effort.

They include the Lysander location of Brecksville, Ohio–based Agrana Fruit US, Inc; Salina–based American Food & Vending; LaFayette–based Byrne Dairy, Inc.; Geddes–based Decorated Cookie Co.; Food Bank of Central New York; Van Buren–based G&C Food Distributors, Inc.; DeWitt–based Giovanni Food Co., Inc.; and Lynnfield, Mass.–based HP Hood LLC, which operates a location in Oneida; and Tops Friendly Markets.

OCC was also hoping for additional funding from the same program for a similar purpose, but the USDOL chose not to provide funding for that effort.

Besides its application that generated the $2.5 million grant award, OCC was also one of the 30 schools from the State University of New York that had collectively submitted an application for $15 million in funding from the TAACCCT grant program.

“The SUNY grant, unfortunately, was not funded,” Crabill said in response to an inquiry from the Business Journal News Network.

The schools intended to use the TAACCCT program funding to establish a systemwide program that would train veterans and the unemployed in the mechatronics field.

U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D–N.Y.) had announced his support for the SUNY application during a visit to Byrne Dairy’s pasteurization plant in DeWitt on Sept. 22.

Contact Reinhardt at


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