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Foodlink, others receive grants for workforce development

Foodlink Inc. will receive nearly $1 million to support its Career Fellowship, a one-of-a-kind culinary training program that creates pathways to prosperity for individuals with barriers to sustainable employment.

New York State Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul was in town Monday to celebrate the funding and announce multiple grant award winners from Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Workforce Development Initiative.

“Putting people first is central to our mission,” said Foodlink President and CEO Julia Tedesco. “The Foodlink Career Fellowship epitomizes our belief that our role as an organization extends well beyond food banking. We nourish thousands of people on a daily basis, but also create opportunities for individuals to be empowered with the skills they need for a healthier future. We’re forever grateful that the state has recognized the potential of this innovative program to spur economic development and transform lives in our communities.”

The fellowship was started in 2018 to train individuals for middle-skills careers in the regional food industry. Fellows are nominated into the program, and progress through a yearlong curriculum that includes both classroom and hands-on training within Foodlink’s state-of-the-art commercial kitchen, where they help prepare after-school and summer meals for Rochester students.

Eight members of the inaugural graduating class secured full-time employment in 2019, while seven current members of the Fellowship are more than halfway through the program.

The state’s Workforce Development Initiative is investing $175 million in job training projects. Awarded projects support strategic regional efforts that meet businesses’ short-term workforce needs, long-term industry needs, improve regional talent pipelines, enhance the flexibility and adaptability of local workforce entities and expand workplace learning opportunities.

Other grantees include Baxter, Genesee Construction Service, Graham Corp., Lifetime Assistance, Mary Cariola Children’s Center, McAlpin Industries, Optimax, Ortho Clinical Diagnostics, Prestolite and Wayne Finger Lakes BOCES.

“The number one issue I hear from employers across the state is that they can’t find workers with the skills they need for 21st-century jobs,” Hochul said. “That is why we are investing $3.1 million in job training programs spearheaded by nearly 70 upstate New York businesses, nonprofits, and community organizations that will benefit 3,600 New Yorkers as part of our historic $175 million Workforce Development Initiative.

“The nearly $1 million in funding for Foodlink will expand the organization’s culinary training program and create more opportunities for individuals in the food industry. The investment is part of our overall efforts to close the skills gap and prepare New Yorkers for jobs today and in the future,” she added.

Foodlink has guided one class through the program in each of the first two years since its launch, however, it has committed to hosting two classes of approximately 15 participants each in the year ahead thanks to the state’s investment. Foodlink’s staff will begin to recruit soon for the launch of the third class in July. A fourth class would begin six months later in January of 2021, officials noted.

Foodlink launched the program with help from Wegmans Food Markets Inc., and through private funding from the William G. McGowan Charitable Fund, ESL Charitable Foundation and the William and Sheila Konar Foundation, which also funded the launch of the second class in 2019. The program includes nine months of training at Foodlink and three months of an externship at a regional employer.

“Before arriving at Foodlink, I wasn’t reaching my true potential,” said Da’Quan Quick, who was a member of the Foodlink Career Fellowship’s inaugural graduating class. “The Fellowship made me believe in myself, and gave me the skills I needed to launch a career.”

As a registered apprenticeship, several local employers have partnered with Foodlink as potential landing spots for program graduates. Many of the 2019 graduates moved into full-time roles at Wegmans stores and restaurants in the Rochester area. The Kelaron Group, which includes restaurants such as Salena’s Mexican Restaurant and Nox, Rochester Institute of Technology and the Del Monte Hotel Group, are collaborating with Foodlink, as well.

Foodlink was awarded funding through the WDI’s Pay for Success program, which focuses on training opportunities for underserved and underemployed populations.

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Nypro to shed former Ortho-Clinical Diagnostics jobs

orthoNypro Inc., a Jabil Inc. company, will complete the phase-out of dozens of former Ortho-Clinical Diagnostics jobs here by Nov. 1, a state Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification filed last week shows.

Some 53 jobs will be affected by the company’s “changing business needs,” the filing shows. The estimated date of the first separation is between Aug. 1 and Aug. 18, with terminations expected to continue through Nov. 1 as the company winds down activities at its Canal Ponds location.

“As previously announced in 2015, the phase-out of the positions in Rochester are scheduled to be completed by the end of 2018,” Nypro Human Resources Manager Lisa Dwyer said in an emailed statement. “Departing employees will be provided with a severance package, as well as outplacement services and additional benefits provided by Trade Adjustment Assistance.”

Once a unit of Eastman Kodak Co. turning out Kodak-brand blood analyzers, OCD ownership has changed hands a few times since its inception in the 1980s. Kodak sold the unit to Johnson & Johnson in 1994.

In 2014, Johnson & Johnson sold OCD to the Carlyle Group L.P. for $4 billion. In a 2015 memo from OCD leaders to affected staff, it was announced that the company would undertake several initiatives to increase its operational performance. At the time, the company had roughly 1,000 staffers in Rochester.

“We have made the decision to contract with Nypro Healthcare, a company with a 40-year history of expertise in global contract manufacturing of quality medical instruments, to manage our equipment manufacturing,” the memo read. “OCD is one of the few diagnostics companies that still manufactures its own equipment. Through our agreement with Nypro Healthcare, OCD will gain access to the specialized capabilities, size and scale needed to drive competitive manufacturing processes, allowing us to continue our commitment to improving product quality.

“By engaging Nypro Healthcare, we will be able to redeploy our resources and investments to our core areas in order to drive growth,” the memo read.

Staffers were told that effective the end of July 2015, affected OCD equipment manufacturing employees will become employees of Nypro Healthcare, although local operations are still referred to as “Ortho-Clinical.”

“Over a defined period of time, Nypro Healthcare will transfer operations from OCD in Rochester, New York, to the Nypro Healthcare facilities in Baja, Mexico,” the memo read. “Rochester has been part of our legacy in bringing innovative products to our customers and the location will continue to be an important part of our company as we move forward. Our future plans in Rochester include establishing centers of excellence for research and development and investing in slide manufacturing, customer service and other shared services, all of which are key to our growth plans.”

It was unclear whether those investment plans materialized, and late last year, Carlyle, a private-equity firm based in Washington, D.C., began looking for a buyer for the Raritan, N.J.-based OCD, Reuters reported.

[email protected] / 585-653-4021
Follow Velvet Spicer on Twitter: @Velvet_Spicer