The Blackstone Valley Chamber of Commerce recently hosted a ribbon cut- ting ceremony for the opening of the Blackstone Valley Educational Hub, an advanced manufacturing training cen- ter in Whitinsville.
Located at 670 Linwood Ave., the Educational Hub was established to meet the educational and training needs of the Blackstone Valley region. The endeavor will advance and expand regional career technical education access and training for high quality career pathway programs.
According to a press release, the Educational Hub Initiative was chiefly funded through Governor Baker’s Skills Capital Grant Program.
In 2017, the Chamber, under the guid- ance of CEO Jeannie Hebert and in partnership with multiple local insti- tutions and businesses, received close to $500,000 in grant money for the proj- ect. The funds were allocated for the purchase and installation of equipment and related improvements and renova- tions of the site in support of vocational and technical training.
The objective of the Educational Hub is multi-faceted. Initially, the Chamber’s goal was to provide a learn- ing space to students in the region who are wait-listed at regional vocational technical high school, while at the same time becoming a centralized state of the art “Fab Lab” for specialized advanced manufacturing training operations.
Consisting of three classrooms, the Hub hosts a skill learning and per-
formance center, containing many essential manufacturing tools and machines, a computer research and design lab that focuses on 3D design and printing, and a “theory” room for instruction.
Working closely with the Central Workforce Investment Board, Hebert and the BVCC Advisory Committee focused on advanced man- ufacturing as its start-up vocation. According to the Central Massachusetts Workforce Investment Board’s Regional Blueprint, manufacturing is the second highest industry, based on number of employees, of those employed and over- all wages in Central Massachusetts.
The advancement of technologies in the career pathway, in combination with a high percentage of a workforce that is due to retire, has created a great
demand for skilled workers to have a definitive advanced set of skills and knowledge to meet manufacturing employment demands in our area, if not statewide, the release states.
The Educational Hub will be avail- able to manufacturing businesses as a potential training center to help employers bring their current work- force up to speed on the newest man- ufacturing trends and equipment. In close association with Quinsigamond Community College, Worcester State University, and Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology, the Hub hopes to gain articulation agreements that become a pathway for students to enroll in their respective post-secondary pro- grams of study.