Vacant Structure to become Isaiah 61 Project Trades Job Training Center
Niagara Falls Community Development was awarded a Western New York Regional Economic Development Council Grant from New York State for the second year in a row. This year’s $132,000 grant for the Niagara Falls Trades Job Training Facility will help renovate the vacant city-owned fire hall at 3721 Highland Avenue, creating the Isaiah 61 Project’s trades training facility and building material re-use store. The department has now received $582,000 in REDC funds over the past two years.
“The City of Niagara Falls put forth a creative plan to re-use a vacant building, return it to the tax roll and train our underemployed residents,” said Mayor Paul Dyster. “Governor Andrew Cuomo and the Regional Economic Development Council turned our ambition into reality with this grant. Beyond renovating a building, this project will help change lives for years to come.”
In late 2012, the Isaiah 61 Project began purchasing vacant city-owned houses from the city for $500, to renovate them for first-time home ownership. As part of each renovation, the Isaiah 61 Project and it’s O/N BOCES licensed instructors, give under-employed residents trades training. Over 75 percent of program graduates have already received job placement. The Isaiah 61 Project’s immediate success creates a need for creative expansion.
The fire hall is owned by the City Niagara Falls as the result of foreclosure. The grant proposal calls for a full renovation of the building, converting it to classroom and workshop space for the Isaiah 61 Project. Actual renovation would happen in the 2014 construction season. An additional $50,000 in project funding is part of the city’s 2014 United States Department of Housing and Urban Development Community Development Block Grant as well the casino revenue budget to complete the renovation. In addition to training and classroom space, this new location would allow the Isaiah 61 Project to start a building material re-use store to bring in revenue and create jobs.
The City of Niagara Falls plans to put the project out to bid as soon as possible. “We want to be one of the first of the awarded projects to complete work,” said Seth Piccirillo, Director of Community Development. “Governor Cuomo made it clear that grant is for shovel ready, transformative projects. The funding is in place, and we are ready to get to work.”