Samuel Northrup, Editor-in-Chief
U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced his support for Utica College’s application to the federal Economic Development Administration (EDA) to help fund its planned construction management facility at a news conference on Monday, Feb. 19, at the Carbone Family Auditorium.
Schumer, stopping in Utica as part of a series of appearances around Upstate New York over the holiday weekend, said he has already told the EDA that he wants “to get this project approved.” Funding approval, he expects, will come in “the next several months.”
“It’s time to put cash on the nail and build UC’s construction management training center,” Schumer said. “And I promise you today I’m going to do everything I can to get the funds for this great program.”
The total cost for the facility is $4.1 million, which includes $3.542 million in construction costs and nearly $600,000 to outfit the building with educational equipment and technology, according to Vice President for Advancement George Nehme. UC has raised $2.8 million between private and state funding.
“It’s always wonderful to have the senior senator for New York on your side, so we just can’t believe that he took the time out of his schedule to do that,” said President Laura Casamento following the conference. “And that just tells us the support is very strong and that we have a really good chance of getting the funding.”
Schumer, in taking time to explain the role higher education plays to a region, praised both UC and its construction management program for preparing students to enter the workforce.
“We have a significant number of good paying jobs here (Upstate New York), we have people that want jobs, but sometimes the skills don’t match up,” he said. “That is the job of a good college, to provide the link to good paying jobs and the skills that are needed. And that’s what Utica College excels at and that’s why it’s so important to the Mohawk Valley.”
Casamento, who spoke prior to Schumer, explained the senator’s presence at UC affirms the college’s role as an “anchor institution” in the Mohawk Valley region.
“Making sure that we have the available programs and the buildings and everything that students need to graduate and enter their field of study with the skills the workforce is demanding, that’s what Utica College is all about,” she said. “He (Schumer) recognizes that, so we’re thrilled about it.”
Senior Travis Flanagan, a construction management major, briefly spoke on behalf of his peers thanking Schumer for his support.
“The new construction management building will provide us, the students, with opportunities to interact and learn with top-notch technology that our field has to offer,” Flanagan said. “We will enter the workforce with the tools to be leaders within our field and our communities.”