Funds will power new program

JOHNSTOWN – Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Thursday that Fulton-Montgomery Community College will receive $256,100 in additional funding over three years as part of a $12 million SUNY High Needs Program to support workforce development in high-need career fields.

FM President Dustin Swanger said $82,600 will be used to expand the electrical technology and computernetworking programs, while $173,500 will be used to develop a new heating, ventilation and air conditioning program.

Swanger said he has talked with a number of businesses in the region that have said it is hard to find people that are prepared to work in the HVAC area because it has become more complex.

He also said the money will be used collaboratively with Hamilton-Fulton-Montgomery Board of Cooperative Educational Services to develop new curriculum.

“I am hoping a year from now we will be launching a whole new HVAC program that will be completely new to both BOCES and FM,” Swanger said.

He said the other two programs will receive equipment upgrades.

“It is a great opportunity for us,” Swanger said. “Keeping computer areas up to date is critical and HVAC is a brand new area and a very important skill that this area needs.”

HFM BOCES Superintendent Patrick Michel said he is pleased the college and BOCES can continue its “symbiotic relationship” with one another to provide what is best for the students of this area. The two previously applied for a $700,000 National Science Foundation Grant that was used to establish the clean room on the college campus.

“We will have to market this program like we do any program, but our business community tells me they need this desperately,” Michel said. “There are very good highpaying jobs for young people who want to take this particular experience. I know part of the plan is that both college-level adult students and our students would work together in the same classroom. I think that will give us the critical mass we need to make sure the program is sustainable.”

Swanger said about 120 students will experience the benefits of the equipment upgrades and new program that could potentially be in operation next year.

Swanger said he is not sure when the funds are actually going to be provided.

The High?Needs Program will provide 63 programs from 36 SUNY campuses more than $12 million over the next three years to meet the demand for training for certain careers.

A news release said every SUNY campus was eligible for funding as part of the High Needs Program. The number and amount of awards given is based on the quantity, quality, and scope of applications received, and varies from $21,000 to more than $500,000 per project over three years.

Program funding is competitive and limited to one to three years of support for new program development or program expansion, so that the program can continue to be flexible and adjust to changing state needs, the release said. To receive funding, campuses must demonstrate how their program will become self-sustaining after the three-year period.

According to the news release, occupations were considered high need if they are projected to have a large number of total openings, a high growth rate, or a combination of both in the coming years, based on state Department of Labor data. The six statewide high-needs areas the program is focused on are: engineering-engineering technologies, healthcare, renewable-clean energy, biomedical-biotechnical, agriculture-agriculture business and information technology.

Levi Pascher can be reached by email at