PUSH Buffalo planning $4M workforce training complex on city's West Side

Jan 21, 2020

PUSH Buffalo is planning a training center on the city's West Side, although far smaller than the Northland Workforce Training Center complex on the East Side.

The community organization hopes to break ground later this year for a $4 million pair of buildings at Arkansas and Hampshire streets. The Sustainability Workforce Training Center will go on property PUSH uses for parking and some maintenance work on its properties.

"We will be taking that space and building two buildings on it," said PUSH Executive Director Rahwa Ghirmatzion. "One will be the actual Sustainable Workforce Training Center, which will have classroom space. It will be designed as a flexible space, because we will also have actual demonstrations of whether they're doing green efficiency work or solar work or geo work, they'll be able to actually physically take it apart, put it back together kind of a thing."

He said there is around $1.2 million in hand, so it is out in the construction market now for design and construction proposals. Applications are due at the ned of this month.

"These jobs are pre-apprenticeship, which I think will actually be on the rise and I think Buffalo, New York is in a really good position, as we are really strong in union membership," said Ghirmatzion. "But I think because there are also a lot of folks retiring, I think there's a real sort of move now towards diversifying the union. That includes people of color as well as women."

Ghirmatzion said the goal is to upskill from job training, like solar panel installers, using a structure built with the latest green technologies.

"The very non-permanent jobs which are on the project side, which is installation of solar, in particular, but we want to move away from that and train people up and skill them up into more permanent jobs like solar technicians, operators and maintenance folks, electricians and, of course, if they want to pursue a four-year degree, become engineers," he said.

As money comes in, Ghirmatzion said the focus will shift to the other planned building on the site. That will be a solar-powered greenhouse, which will grow food but also train people how to do the year-round planting and growing skills of the solar age.